The last time the Knicks faced the Atlanta Hawks there was an altercation between Shawne Williams and Marvin Williams, resulting in one- and two-game suspensions, respectively, for throwing punches. Enter world-class boxer “Sugar” Shane Mosley, who attended Knicks’ practice yesterday.
“I’m not really a boxing guy,” said Williams, who joked it was a mere coincidence Mosley was at the practice facility. “No lessons, not for me. I can’t afford it … we’re just basically trying to come out and get the win.”
Rounds 1 and 2 already went to Atlanta with a pair of nine-point wins earlier this season. The Knicks plan revenge in jumpers not jabs.
“Hopefully it’s intense, but I don’t think it’ll be any carryover. It was a good game last time. Hopefully we’ll match their intensity, that’s for sure,” said head coach Mike D’Antoni. “There’s no hard feelings. You just play the game and get caught up in the moment sometimes. Things happen sometimes.”
The one thing Amar’e Stoudemire remembers from last month’s 111-102 loss in Atlanta was Marvin Williams pushing Shawne Williams in the back with less than a minute left. It sparked a playground shoving match between players, including Stoudemire and Hawks’ double-double machine Al Horford. And while the Knicks’ All-Star didn’t necessarily invite more confrontation, he didn’t back down from it either.
“He doesn’t want to see me, man,” Stoudemire said. “We have two different games and we’ll see how that plays out.”
Horford beat his chest in Stoudemire’s face as he went for 19 points and 14 points. Stoudemire said that will change on New York’s home court.
“He felt good. His team was winning. He had a couple of baskets, couple of jump shots and felt like he was doing something,” Stoudemire of Horford’s histrionics. “But welcome to New York.”
About the only difference from the last battle is the insertion of Timofey Mozgov into the starting lineup. Mozgov didn’t play in the first matchup but said he’s looking forward to playing the likes of Horford because it’s just another test for the burgeoning rookie center. Mozgov, who had 11 rebounds against the Los Angeles Lakers’ massive frontcourt, said if he can do that against the two-time world champs he’s confident he can duplicate such a performance against the Hawks.
“It’s just a regular game. He’s a good player but I just have to be assertive and concentrate,” said Mozgov, adding that his game against the Lakers didn’t give him any more confidence than usual. “Of course my confidence improves after any game, not just the LA game or against good teams, because every time Coach gives me a chance, my confidence improves.”
Mozgov, who rivals Wilson Chandler as the most laidback Knick, said it would take a lot to rile him up to Horford’s levels but said if this was his not-so-distant past he and Horford would be in a very intense matchup.
“The last few months, I try to control my emotions. In Russia I was mad a lot and out of control and lose concentration. But now if I don’t like something I don’t try to say nothing and keep quiet and focus on the game,” Mozgov offered. “Sometimes you get upset but you can’t do it all the time. Sometimes it’s good to speak to the referees about something but maybe not this year.”
Stoudemire is feisty enough for the two of them and added tonight’s test – the final game before the All-Star break -- will be a battle of which the Knicks don’t plan on backing down.
“It’s going to be a very intense game after what happened last time in Atlanta. We feel we could’ve played a lot better. It’s a very important game for us and we’ll be ready,” Stoudemire said, adding the Hawks better take them seriously. “They respect us. They know what we’re capable of. Teams are amped to play us and they’ve change the way they approach our games now and try to catch us off guard. And we have to raise our energy and expectations now, too...I’m very excited about playing them again [tonight].”