No one was talking yesterday about shutting down Kobe Bryant. Instead, the Knicks might just try to match Bryant’s production when the defending champion Lakers visit the Garden tomorrow night.
That equalizer might be Nate Robinson, who turned in another big game with 27 points in Monday night’s 99-91 win over the Pistons. Robinson’s 2010 outburst has turned heads around the league and even in his own front office.
“I think Nate’s really trying to do the right thing,” said general manager Donnie Walsh. “It’s obvious he’s helping us by getting us going. And he’s cutting down on the things that detracted from that earlier.”
It’s a complete turnaround for Walsh, who just one month ago backed Mike D’Antoni’s benching of the diminutive sparkplug. Robinson received 14 consecutive DNP-CDs (Did Not Play — Coach’s Decision). Back then, Robinson was seen as a defensive liability and a ball hog. Since his breakout game on New Year’s Day, when he scored 41 points in his first game back in the rotation, he’s been less erratic and more unselfish. He’s averaging 3.3 assists this month — more than double what he produced in November. It’s no surprise the Knicks have already won two more games in January than November.
“I think when a guy adjusts his game for the team, it does change your view of him,” Walsh said.
Walsh isn’t the only one who’s changed his views. Reports surfaced yesterday that the Celtics were interested in acquiring Robinson. The fifth-year guard credits that piqued interest, both at home and abroad, to his roll-with-the-punches attitude.
“I love basketball, man,” Robinson said. “It shows maturity over time.”