GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Knicks spent a good chunk of Tuesday's practice scrimmaging full court. But it wasn't just any 5-on-5 game. Mike Woodson encouraged extra contact, hard fouls and constant communication.
The idea was to start getting the team ready for Thursday, when they play the physical and defensive-minded Celtics, who beat them in a grind-out game on Jan. 7 at the Garden.
"Today was the first time in a long time that we had a practice where we really competed and got after each other, fouled a little bit, got physical out there," Carmelo Anthony said, "just trying to prepare ourselves for these next couple of games."
Not only did the guys scrimmage competitively, but half of the team afterward went through an extra 15 minutes of running drills. James White, who participated in them, said it was a "very good practice; one we needed."
"Today was a really hard practice," said Amar'e Stoudemire. "We got after it pretty good, which is great to be able to build that camaraderie and that competitiveness in both units, so it was definitely fun playing."
While Stoudemire said Thursday's game will be a "battle from start to finish," Anthony said it's going to be a "hostile environment," especially after what happened between him and Kevin Garnett in their previous matchup. Both players trash talked, got called for double technicals and exchanged words after the game. As a result, Melo got suspended one game for waiting around to talk to Garnett near the Celtics' bus.
But Anthony has moved on from the incident.
"It's a new game," he said. "I don't care what message we sent to them. I want to win. I'll do whatever it takes to win. Thursday is definitely a big game for us."
"It's definitely a game that we've got to win," Tyson Chandler said on ESPN New York 98.7 FM's "The Michael Kay Show" on Tuesday. "It's an important game in our division, and we felt like we gave them one in our house. They didn't have (Rajon) Rondo and when they have him back, they're an even better team."
Here are two other key nuggets from Chandler during the segment:
On Stoudemire: "I think he's starting to look really good. ... We do post work and I try to help him get his timing back. We make sure we guard each other in practice on opposite teams. I told him, 'I'm going to push you. I want you to get your timing back.' He's been doing it. ... I know that's going to translate to the games."
On Raymond Felton's help to make a deep playoff run: "Very important. He's huge for our chemistry and what we're trying to accomplish on both ends of the floor, especially offensively -- his penetration, making things easier for everybody around him, making plays at the rim. Also, being able to really pick guys up full court defensively. ... I think when we get Raymond back, our shooters will shoot more in the flow of the offense. Our spacing is not what it should be right now."
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