New York–And so it begins.
It’s Round 3 of Hawks vs. Knicks at Madison Square Garden tomorrow, and of course the storyline in New York is focused on Atlanta’s 111-102 victory in Round 2 on Jan. 28. An intense game climaxed with Atlanta’s Marvin Williams coming to blows with Shawne Williams. Afterward, Amar’e Stoudemire called out Al Horford for his chest-pounding exhortations to Hawks fans at Philips Arena.
The league suspended Marvin for two games for his role in the fight, which he said happened after series of unspecified actions by the Knicks throughout the game. But Marvin downplayed the rematch.
“I am sure it is going to be intense,” he said. “But it’s in the past for me, and I’m sure it is for Shawne, too. It’s over; it’s done with. I am sure he feels the same way. It’s just another game.”
Shawne Williams, who got suspended for a game because of the altercation, also said he’s not bitter about the incident.
“I feel like we owe them guys from last game,” Williams told ESPN.com’s Chris Sheridan today at Knicks practice. “Ain’t nothing personal, like I said that day. We were competing in the heat of the moment and it got out of hand. There’s no hard feelings after. You play the game and you get caught up in the moment and things happen sometimes. It’s not like it’s premeditated or anything. Everything’s good.”
While those two might be ready to move on, Amar’e sounds as if he’s eager to face fellow All-Star Horford.
Amar’e missed New York’s victory over the Nets on Saturday with a toe injury but said he’s ready for the Hawks:
“It’s going to be a very, very intense game after what happened in Atlanta. He don’t want to see me. I watched him play in Florida, and I’ve seen him play a few years in Atlanta. We’ve got two different games, and we’ll see how it plays out tomorrow.”
It sounds as if Amar’e is suggesting he’s tougher than Al. That’s similar to his comments after the game last month: ““I don’t know what Horford’s thinking. He needs to calm down. He’s not that type of player. He doesn’t want to see me on any night, so he’d better relax and calm down.”
Horford later responded on Twitter, saying: “I am that kind of player, who does what he needs to win…”
After the Hawks beat the Pistons Tuesday, Al didn’t have much to add.
“A comment was made that I found out [about],” he said. “He’s a competitor, I am too. That’s all there is to that.”
In the aftermath of that tough victory against the Knicks, Hawks coach Larry Drew said that while he didn’t condone fighting, he thinks the Hawks could have bolstered their rep by not backing down “when you feel things got tough.”
What kind of game does he expect tomorrow at the Garden?
“Same thing,” he said, chuckling. “It won’t be any different. It’s going to be a very hard-fought basketball game. It’s going to be a physical game. We just have to go in there and do what we always try to do on the road and control the tempo.
“We won’t get caught up in a lot of the hype behind it. We’ve got a job to do. This is game we want want to get, especially before the All-Star break. We have to go in there like gangbusters.”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat