D'Antoni confident he can adapt high-scoring style to create winning Knicks

Mike D'Antoni is bringing his high-scoring brand of basketball to a New York Knicks team that seems ill-suited to run it.

No matter. The former Phoenix Suns coach figures he'll come up with something that works.


"I will adapt what I do. Now I like to play fast, move the ball and all that stuff, and we'll try to do that as best as we can," D'Antoni said yesterday.

The Knicks are counting on it, hoping one of the NBA's top offensive coaches can turn around a team with seven straight losing seasons - and make New York an exciting future destination for free agents.


D'Antoni was introduced as the Knicks' 24th coach during a news conference at Madison Square Garden, four days after agreeing to leave the Suns for a four-year, $24 million contract. New York president Donnie Walsh referred to his new coach as Mike "D'Antonio" before quickly correcting himself. Still, Walsh is certain he has the right man.

"I thought that Mike was the best guy to choose because I think he's been in situations like we have right now, and he did a good job," Walsh said.

D'Antoni replaces Isiah Thomas, who was fired last month after going 56-108 in two seasons.

D'Antoni won at least 54 games each of the past four seasons and earned Coach of the Year honors in 2005.

Jurisprudence -- Larry Bird filed a lawsuit alleging a couple who bought his former home in southern Indiana are improperly using his name to promote a bed-and-breakfast. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, claims Georgianna Lincoln and Christopher Cooke did not have permission to use the Hall of Famer's name with the property and are profiting off his trademark. Cooke, a lawyer in Alaska, said yesterday that negotiations had ended in good faith with a spoken permission to use Bird's name.

Lakers -- Kobe Bryant walked a bit gingerly as he came from the training area at team headquarters to speak with reporters, remaining on his feet because sitting is not a preferred option because of his sore lower back. "Quite a bit [of pain], but it's a lot better than it was [Monday]," Bryant said with a smile. "It'll be fine." Bryant hurt his back in the opening minutes of Sunday's 123-115 overtime loss at Utah that tied the Western Conference semifinal series 2-2. Game 5 is tonight in Los Angeles.

All-Rookie team -- Hawks forward Al Horford and SuperSonics forward Kevin Durant, the Rookie of the Year, headlined the first team. Forwards Luis Scola (53) of the Rockets, Al Thornton (48) of the Clippers and Jeff Green (43) of the Sonics also made the first team.