The New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers could be battling fatigue as much as each other Sunday.
Both teams were unable to get out of town immediately after their previous games because of the massive storm in the Northeast ahead of this matchup at Madison Square Garden.
New York (32-16) stayed in Minnesota after a 100-94 victory Friday and Los Angeles (35-17) remained in Miami that same night following its 111-89 loss. New York City's three major airports were closed that evening, and both teams made plans to travel Saturday - more than likely less than 24 hours before this nationally televised contest begins.
Los Angeles has dropped eight of 11, but a big positive Friday was that Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford returned.
Thursday marked the first time coach Vinny Del Negro had all 15 players available for practice. Paul had missed the last nine games before Friday with a bruised right kneecap and Griffin sat out two with a strained left hamstring.
Billups has appeared in four games all season, most recently being bothered by left foot tendinitis. Crawford has been hampered by a sore right shoulder and missed an 86-76 win over Orlando on Wednesday.
"The Clippers have been great," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "They've had their struggles as of late because they've had injuries."
Billups will play in New York for the first time since his 21-game stint with the Knicks in 2010-11. Paul will face the Knicks for the first time with the Clippers.
"Anytime you have Chris Paul and you have Griffin and you have the big fellow inside (DeAndre Jordan), I mean they're talented, they have a talented team with (Eric) Bledsoe and Crawford," Woodson said. "We're going to have to play a complete game when we go home."
Paul had three points and two assists in 19 minutes Friday as he tries to work his way into shape.
"Obviously, Chris is trying to get back," Del Negro said. "He's got to take control of the game and physically right now he's not capable of doing that.'
The Clippers allowed the Heat to shoot 52.9 percent, the second-highest figure they have yielded all season.
"You never want to make excuses but they shot the lights out of the ball," Paul said. "We never really made an impact defensively."
New York rallied from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Timberwolves behind Carmelo Anthony's 36 points and nine rebounds. The Knicks had a five-game win streak snapped when they blew a lead in the fourth in a 106-96 defeat at Washington on Wednesday.
"We had to go get it," Anthony said. "Our backs were kind of against the wall, being down 11. It was one of those games we didn't want to look back on saying we should have won this game, kind of like the Wizards game."
Anthony's teams have won 10 straight at home against the Clippers, including a 99-93 victory April 25 in the last meeting.
Griffin is averaging 31.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in three career games against the Knicks.
The Associated Press News Service
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