February 27, 2007 -- Part of the Heat's game plan, according to the greaseboard in the visiting locker room last night, was to make Knick center Eddy Curry "a passer."
Curry had only one assist, but recorded 28 points and 11 rebounds (both game highs) - so that should tell you the outcome.
In his first head-to-head matchup this season against Shaquille O'Neal, Curry earned a TKO, outplaying the future Hall of Famer during the Knicks' 99-93 victory over Miami.
Although the two didn't cover each other for much of the game, O'Neal (20 points, three rebounds) was plagued by foul trouble and minimized while Curry went off, scoring 16 points alone in the third quarter.
"I thought [Curry] took a giant step," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "I want him to be respected by the Godfather, and the Godfather is Shaq.
"Hopefully this goes a long way in Shaq's mind and Alonzo's [Mourning's] mind that he is on the same playing field [Orlando's] Dwight Howard is on. It would be good if the Godfather anoints him also."
O'Neal said Curry played well, but he measured his praise.
"Not yet. Not yet," O'Neal said of the anointment. "You've gotta win first."
What was once an obvious mismatch has become a more compelling storyline. O'Neal needs another week or two to return to full strength off November knee surgery and Curry is enjoying a breakout year. Before last night's clash, Heat head coach Pat Riley said Curry has "absolutely" taken dominant strides this season.
"There's no doubt," Riley said. "He's probably right behind Shaq. He's more productive, right now, offensively, than Shaquille, but he hasn't been hurt. He's number one in points in the paint in the NBA. He's a load down there."