Originally created 04/16/04

Norris left off playoff roster; Houston unlikely to play

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Moochie Norris was left off the playoff roster Thursday by the New York Knicks, who decided to keep Allan Houston active despite coach Lenny Wilkens' guess that there's a 70 to 80 percent chance he won't play.

Frank Williams will back up point guard Stephon Marbury, and Shandon Anderson will start for Houston at shooting guard.

Norris had one of his best games of the season Monday night against New Orleans, scoring 21 points. But Wilkens and team president Isiah Thomas decided Williams, a second-year player, would be a better fit against New Jersey Nets guards Jason Kidd and Lucious Harris.

Williams averaged 3.9 points and 2.2 assists in 56 games.

"Defensively, he's bigger and stronger," Wilkens said. "We'll be able to defend their guards, and it'll probably give us a little edge in that area, because they won't be so prone to post us up."

The Knicks also left veteran forward Othella Harrington off the 12-man playoff roster, electing to go with rookie Michael Sweetney and veterans Vin Baker and Dikembe Mutombo as the backups along the front line.

Norris, Thomas' first acquisition after replacing Scott Layden as team president, was not available for comment after practice.

"He was very disappointed, naturally," Wilkens said. "Everybody wants to be a part of this. You work real hard, but there's only so many spots."

Houston had therapy and treatment Thursday on his sore left knee, which sidelined him for 13 of the team's final 14 games.

The team's second-leading scorer (18.5 average) and best outside shooter, Houston said Wednesday he's eager to return to the postseason after a two-year hiatus - but only if his knee feels strong enough.

Houston missed only 10 games in his first seven seasons with the Knicks before sitting out 32 this season. The Knicks were 15-17 when he did not play.

"On a scale of one to 10 that he won't (play), seven or eight," Wilkens said. "But I won't say, 'No' for sure. I'll have to see him and be comfortable that he can contribute and we're not hurting him. I'll have to be convinced of that, and that's a decision we'll make as we go."

Anderson made 37 starts for the Knicks, averaging 7.9 points on 42 percent shooting.

He'll be backed up by Penny Hardaway, who averaged 9.6 points in 42 games for the Knicks after being acquired along with Marbury from Phoenix.

"Penny brings us something off the bench offensively. I don't want to lose that, and Shandon has played real good defense for us," Wilkens said.

The series against the Nets begins Saturday at New Jersey.


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