But Horford, not much for hype, says he will make his point tonight at Madison Square Garden against Amar’e’s Knicks.
“He’s a talker. He’s going to talk, you know what I’m saying?” he said at shootaround today. “All I do is bring my game to the court. That’s what I will do tonight.”
Stoudemire has tried to inflame what already promised to be an intense game after Marvin Williams and Shawne Williams scuffled during Atlanta’s 111-102 victory on Jan. 28. Both immediately after that game and again yesterday, Stoudemire seemed to question Horford’s toughness and declared that Horford “doesn’t want to see me.”
Horford seemed more amused than offended by that last part.
“I don’t understand what he means by I don’t want to see him,” Horford said. “Like we are supposed to be scared of him or something. Ain’t nobody scared of nobody. We are all grown men. It’s all good.”
Seemingly lost amid the fight and Amare’s tough talk is that the Hawks own two victories this season against the Knicks, who are being left behind by Atlanta in the Eastern Conference standings.
Before the victory at Philips the Hawks won 99-90 on Nov. 27 at the Garden, after which New York won seven straight against mostly lesser competition.
“I walked out with the W’s the last two times,” Horford said. “So that’s that.”
Horford was productive and efficient in both games. In New York he had 17 points, nine rebounds, two assists, three steals, one block and one turnover while shooting 7 of 14 from the field. In Atlanta he had 19 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block (against Amar’e) and one turnover while shooting 8 of 12 from the field.
Amar’e has scored more than Horford in the matchups but hasn’t been as efficient. In New York he had 24 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and four turnovers while shooting 7 of 15 from the field. In Atlanta he had 27 points, three rebounds, one assist, zero steals, one block and three turnovers while shooting 9 of 21 from the field.
And Stoudemire is down 0-2 where it counts most, though he’s certainly leading in sound bites.
“He’s making a huge deal out of this,” Horford said. “It’s just another game. I’m coming out ready to play, like I do everything night.”
Oh, yeah, the game.
Coach Larry Drew said he would use the “big” lineup again tonight, unless the Knicks go small with Amar’e at center instead of Mozgov.
“That would not be a favorable matchup for Twin,” Drew said with a wry smile.
As for all the noise surrounding the game, Drew the Hawks don’t need it to get going but said he’s always willing to use “whatever it takes to get my guys juiced up and motivated.” In this case, though, he doesn’t think he needs to say much to his players.
“They see it. They hear it. They got on the bus [for shootaround] telling me some things. They are aware of it. And they were expecting it. It’s not a thing about anybody being surprised.”
Al acknowledged that, in the end, the game could end up being a fun spectacle.
“We’re playing at the Garden, man,” he said. “It doesn’t get any bigger than this, at least for me. Any time I come to New York I am looking forward to it, pre-Amare Stoudemire and with him being here. So I am just excited to play.”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat