NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks' offensive woes continued to mount yesterday when they learned that Hubert Davis, their best pure perimeter shooter other than Patrick Ewing, will be sidelined six weeks with a fractured right hand.
Davis apparently suffered the injury, described by the team physician, Dr. Norman Scott, as a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal (one of the long bones that runs from the wrist to a finger), late in the fourth quarter of the Knicks' 84-75 victory over the Atlanta Hawks last Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
The injury to Davis' shooting hand comes at an especially painful juncture for the Knicks, who this month have already lost forward Charles Smith to arthroscopic knee surgery for six weeks and point guard Doc Rivers for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
The Knicks are likely to be a player short on their 12-man active roster. With Rivers, Smith and center Tim McCormick all on injured reserve, the Knicks have no more room and must petition the NBA for permission to add a fourth. That would enable them to sign a replacement for Davis.
Davis was averaging 9.4 points, 2.6 assists and averaging 20.8 minutes of playing time a game. Davis' value increased, however, when Rivers was injured. With Greg Anthony struggling with his confidence and his jump shot, coach Pat Riley has been using Davis in tandem with John Starks at critical periods of games.
Now Riley's backcourt has been reduced to Anthony, Starks, Rolando Blackman, a rusty veteran, and Corey Gaines, a recent pickup from the Continental Basketball Association.
Tony Campbell, who has replaced Smith in the starting lineup as the small forward, could swing to the big-guard position when Anthony Mason comes off the bench.
But the immediate impact of the Davis injury will be on Blackman, who lost a preseason duel with Davis for the role as Starks' backup and has played sparingly, except for a token start against his former team, the Mavericks, in his return to Dallas in November.
The Davis injury is likely to intensify the team's search for backcourt help. Management is said to have interest in Dallas' Derek Harper, the Philadelphia 76ers' Jeff Hornacek and the Los Angeles Clippers' Mark Jackson.