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NEW YORK -- Not since Mikhail Prokhorov pulled the plug on the Carmelo Anthony-to-New Jersey charade has a Russian meant so much to the New York Knicks.
The difference this time was that the Russian was a Knick, not a Nyet.
Timofey Mozgov was summoned from the Vladivostok section of the Knicks' bench Sunday night and made such a difference that coach Mike D'Antoni said there will be more Mozgov to come. It was a complete about-face from what D'Antoni told reporters before the game, insisting that he'd go back to his favorite nine players once those nine were all healthy no matter what any of the emergency subs did against the Pistons.
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But after Mozgov produced a line of 23 points and 14 rebounds in 40 minutes, D'Antoni changed his tune.
"Twenty-three and 14, a one-shot deal? No, I think I'll try it again," D'Antoni said.
The sight of the Knicks playing with an effective center (OK, so he was dominant against the likes of Greg Monroe and Chris Wilcox, which mitigates the superlatives anyone should be throwing around) and thus allowing Amare Stoudemire to play at his natural position of power forward, gave the team a different and more natural look, allowing Stoudemire to expend his energy on scoring (33 points) instead of rebounding and trying to defend the paint.
Not only was Stoudemire his usual productive and efficient self (he shot 11-for-19 from the field and 11-for-12 from the foul line), but D'Antoni also made sure to remind reporters as he exited his postgame news conference that Danilo Gallinari (29 points) also may have played his best game of the entire season.
The Knicks put this one away in a fourth quarter that began with the score tied 91-91, with Mozgov providing the early separation by dunking a miss by Toney Douglas for a 95-91 lead that only grew from there.
It had been 10 games since Mozgov had even gotten a sniff of garbage time, and he racked up 15 DNP-CDs in the past 17 games as D'Antoni alternated starting Ronny Turiaf or Stoudemire at center.
Turiaf got the nod in the starting five again Sunday as Wilson Chandler (strained calf) missed his second straight game, but he was on the bench with two fouls less than five minutes into the first quarter. Mozgov's first shot was from 3 feet away and traveled roughly 6 feet, and his next two attempts were layups that both bounced off the rim and out. But from there, he made five of his next six shots to go into halftime with a line of 11 points and six rebounds, and Mozgov got the call again when Turiaf picked up his fourth foul just 2:13 into the third quarter.
From there, the 7-foot-1 Russian played the rest of the game, even hearing the fans chant his last name as the clock wound down in the final minute.
"It was great, I really liked it," said Mozgov, who reckoned he hadn't produced a statistical line of this caliber since two years ago when he was playing for Khimki Moscow.
D'Antoni had been saying for the better part of the past two months that he erred at the start of the season when he thrust Mozgov into the starter's role, not properly accounting for the difficulty Mozgov would have adjusting both to the difficulties of rebounding in the NBA and growing accustomed to the manner in which NBA referees call fouls against rookies -- especially foreign rookies whose mettle is often tested first by the guys with the whistles.
D'Antoni acknowledged having a "here we go again" flashback to Mozgov's early-season struggles when the big Russian missed those first three shots. But Mozgov settled down and persevered, and the results in the box score spoke volumes.
"Obviously the work he did with the coaches is paying off," D'Antoni said.
So we now segue to the inevitable question of whether Mozgov was being showcased for inclusion in a possible trade for Anthony, a route the Knicks have been trying to maneuver down for the past several weeks by picking the brain of former Nuggets general manager Mark Warkentien about the best way to proceed forward. In their quest to enhance the value of the players they are trying to trade to Denver, they are in essence using Warkentien's knowledge of the Nuggets' inner workings to make the deal more palatable to owners Stan and Josh Kroenke, who will have final say on whether the Nuggets will move their franchise player or keep him for a playoff run, gambling that Anthony might eventually succumb to the allure of the $83 million he would be leaving on the table, and also gambling that Anthony could still be moved to New York in a sign-and-trade deal over the summer if such deals are still allowed under the new collective bargaining agreement.
Just a few days ago, the debate in New York was whether it would be worth it to include Landry Fields in a proposed package for Anthony.
This week, you can argue the same point about whether Mozgov is a keeper or a spare part.
Perhaps Anthony himself, who has become talkative again lately, will weigh in on the merits of each of those players Monday night when he pays his one and only visit to Prokhorov's rental unit on the other side of the Hudson.
And if Melo says he's a bigger fan of Mozgov than he is of Mikhail, we'll have another clue to decipher as we count down to the Feb. 24 trade deadline wondering whether the trade that has been slow-brewing since the start of the season will finally go down -- and whether either of the two prized Knicks rookies (yes, there are now two thanks to Mozgov's big night) will be staying in New York for the long term.
He was a pleasant surprise out there today.. he looked like the 2nd coming of Rik Smits!! Night and day comparedto that buse he took from Blake griffin lol.. I think Moz can keep it u .. He certianly has the ability.. He didnt play soft in the paint tonight
Last edited by JoHnNyBoXeR; Jan 31, 2011 at 05:53.
Do we see the results of size and high% shots?
Now I didn't even read this threat yet, but I'll guess some mda supporters are responding by saying he wasn't good enough before, but he's improved thus justifying his mins.
Cough..cough,,,bullsh*t! He and AR have always been good, just lack confidence ala Danillo "flipity-flopity" Gallinari, another coaching skill.
Play the kids/bigs, build up their confidence and reward Donnie and his wisdom. No more:
I will always think these players have some kind of skill, from Darko and Curry to AR, Earl barron and Moz... its on the coach to use them and develop them and not as a result of injury, its always the coach.
These kids wouldn't be so touted, praised and sought and signed/drafted without any skill its the coach imo.
Arguably, the injuries could be caused by lack of min for our depth...think about it.
O'sh*t... we have a big(s) right on the bench... who knew?
hopefully we'll see mor both Moz and Radolph.. I was SHOCKED wen AR came in in the 1st quarter
Last edited by JoHnNyBoXeR; Jan 31, 2011 at 06:12.
Great game by Mozgod. It was great to see a Knick actually rebounding. Great to see Randolph also rebounding, defending and grabbing a block in his limited time.
What worries me is that in the pre-game interview no D-Toni dais that no matter what the players did he would revert to his original rotation once Wilson and Shawne were available. In the light of Mozgod`s play he has changed his mind but what kind of coach says that he would do that no matter how the players coming in would play ?
We looked so much more balanced with a good centre and Amare at the power forward position. Amare could use all of his energy scoring rather than having to attempt to defend and rebound like a legitimate centre.
How many of you nearly had a heart attack when Amare went down in the latter stages of the game with a hurt knee. My heart nearly leapt out of my mouth.
I loved hearing the Garden crowd chanting "Mozgov,Mozgov,Mozgov" at the end of the fourth quarter. They know what we all know. If we have a good centre who defends,rebounds and has an offensive game then we become a completely different team. Mozgov could come in for us now and do what DeMarcus Cousins is doing for the Sacramento Kings.
The problem is no D-Toni and his stupid problem with playing bigs who can defend, rebound and block shots. All he wants is five shooters and no D.
here we go again...such whiners...
Mozgov was in the starting five at the start of the season. He sucked.
he was not ready and D'Antonio knew that.
He has gotten experience at practices and by working with the coaching staff...
You guys are so ignorant and whiny. Mozgiv sucked at the start of the season. And if he sucks next week you guys will again complain.
lets things evolve.....
all the hating on Gallo....Remember ? Walker and Williams can do what gallo does. SD you see thats not true ?
Just maybe give the coaching staff credit for getting him ready!
I was really impressed with both guys, Mozgov and Randolph. Of course Mozgov stole the show but Randolph played some good ball aswell, rebounding the basketball and blocking shots. He didn't throw up stupid jumpers from 18 feet or dribble the ball past midcourt - like he did earlier in the season.
Mozgov was just beasting in the paint and I really had to smile when I saw him taking jumpers and freethrows with confidence and hitting them like it was nothing. Typical example of a confidence player. I hope he can keep it up because it really adds another dimension to our game.
A temporary frontcourt of Mozgov / Turiaf / STAT could really trouble the Bulls when Gallo is on the bench in the playoffs.
In addition to that it become obvious to me as a Knick fan (wo is not used to it for the last 3-4 years) that size can do wonders for you. We looked so much more in control and more dominant with a real center on and STAT at PF.
We're normally on the receiving end when it comes to domination in the paint and rebounding. This time it was the other way round and it felt damn good!
The same way the Lakers abused us with the 7'1 Bynum and 7'0 Gasol, we abused the Pistons with the 7'1 Mozgov and the 6'10 Amar'e at PF.
I for once wouldn't have the slightest problem with leaving Chandler out of the rotation for a while in favor of Mozgov and Randolph.
the good thing about this is that..
if he can give us 10 pts 8 rebs 2 blocks a game.. there goes our need for a big.
its only one game though... so i wont get crazy..
we do need another big becuz turiaf looks like he's hurting now
Look at Landy Fields...he played 4 years of college thats why he has the Basketball IQ and the extra experience driven skills...
Randolph played 1 year in college.
Mozgov needs time.
One good game and everybody says D'Antonio should have been playing him...
We right now are the 6th best team in the East.
We are not better nor will be better then the Heat, Celtics, Magic, Hawks or Bulls. Does not mean we cannot beat them but come on we are in a much better position then we thought we would be.
Now Mozgov has a good game and again everyone wants playing time.
This is the samething that was said about walker and Williams...
we cannot have an 11 man rotation....
Now we won 2 of 3 the next thing will be Chandler sucks ( I am not a fan)..
bitch bitch bitch