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Sports

November 19, 2008

Rising from the dregs

Knicks hoping to run out of NBA cellar

On Pro Basketball

Alan Siegel

BOSTON — Growing up in Chicago, Quentin Richardson hated the Knicks.

"The Bulls always beat them," he said last night. "Always."

Back in the 1990s, things were different. New York was a contender.

"They were very well respected," he said. "Whenever (Chicago) would play them, it would be a hard series."

A decade later, the Knicks bear no resemblance to the once rough-and-tumble squad. But for the first time in recent memory, New York may be on the upswing. Richardson, the ninth-year shooting guard out of DePaul, hopes so.

"You always want to be in a situation where your team matters," he said before the Celtics beat the Knicks 110-101 at TD Banknorth Garden. "That's definitely a position we want to get into."

The best of times (Pat Riley, Patrick Ewing) may have passed, but so have the worst (Larry Brown, Isiah Thomas) of times. New coach Mike D'Antoni, who piloted the Phoenix Suns for five seasons, has installed the same fast-paced system that brilliant point guard Steve Nash drove like a Ferrari.

D'Antoni's arrival was a gift to Richardson. After all, he spent 2004-05 with the Suns, who ended up advancing to the Western Conference finals before falling to eventual-champion San Antonio.

Richardson averaged 14.9 points per game and set the franchise record for 3-pointers (226).

It was the most fun he'd had in the NBA.

"You combine all the different things," said Richardson, who scored 13 points last night. "We had a great group of guys. A lot of those guys are still great friends. It was special."

"The way I look at it," he added, "I really couldn't see anybody who wouldn't want to play that style."

By last season, Richardson (8.1 ppg), like the Thomas-led Knicks, had been rendered irrelevant. Thankfully for the current crop of New York players, so had D'Antoni, whose uptempo style was no longer a fit for

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