After living through a season and a half of Mike D'Antoni as Knicks coach, one thing about him is very clear. He's a stubborn, stubborn man. That can manifest itself in various ways, but it's never been more apparent than in the way he's stuck by Chris Duhon game after game and night after night despite Duhon's quite obvious shortcomings as an NBA player.
Even stubborn men have a breaking point, though, and D'Antoni appeared to hit his with the Knicks trailing the Wizards 45-41 at halftime on Wednesday night. Duhon had played 13 minutes, missed five of six shots and posted two assists and two turnovers in a typically mediocre attempt to run the offense. He was benched to start the second half in place of Nate Robinson, a move that paid off as the Knicks streaked to 107-85 win behind Robinson's 23 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
Robinson, of course, had his own run-in with D'Antoni's stubborn side earlier this season, but he's looking like the starter now. Duhon never got off the bench in the second half, and the coach's current object of disaffection, Larry Hughes, looked decent in 18 minutes of run. After the game, D'Antoni stopped short of ceding the starting spot to Robinson. The writing is on the wall, though, as D'Antoni swallowed his pride to play Hughes and said Toney Douglas would see action in the near future.
The move is both long overdue and surprising. Duhon hasn't played well in more than a handful of games during his Knicks tenure, but the team has never had another real option at point guard on the roster. They still don't, but a hybrid offensive attack with Robinson, Lee, Hughes and Jared Jeffries moving the ball can't be any worse, with one exception, than one with Duhon in charge. The exception is Danilo Gallinari, a player who receives passes from Robinson with the frequency that a homely girl receives passes on a Saturday night.
That's a correctable flaw in Robinson's approach, however. You can't say the same about Duhon's shortcomings, which is why the bench is exactly where he belongs for the time being.