NEW YORK -- About two hours before tip-off, Ray Allen was practicing 3-pointers in the dark -- yes, in the dark, while the Garden crew worked on pre-game tuneups. That's Allen for you, one of the most meticulous warmup artists in the game.
A few moments later, after the lights turned on, Iman Shumpert stepped on to the court to get some repetitions in. At that point, it was Allen on one side; Shumpert on the other. Then, Allen took a quick break from his shooting to come over to the Knicks' side and give the rookie a players' hug. Shumpert couldn't believe it.
"Yeah, it was huge," he said, then pausing to collect his thoughts. "Just for him to come across the court, while we were shooting and welcome me to the league, it was just a nice gesture by a leading 3-point guy. It's just a magical feeling. I got drafted, my birthday was three days later. I've got the best Christmas present. I got my first game on Christmas. I'm a little at heart right now."
An hour later in the locker room, while Shumpert was lacing his holiday-themed adidas Mister Fly sneakers, he reflected on the Knicks-Celtics playoff series from last season. He thought the Celtics got away with Game 1 on Allen's 3-pointer.
"I watched it," he said. "Toney [Douglas] got tripped on that play by [Kevin] Garnett, too. I think he would've got out to Ray. That was definitely a battle, a war every game."
With Mike Bibby sidelined with lingering back pain from his spasms, Mike D'Antoni said Shumpert will be the backup point guard. But Shumpert said it doesn't matter what position he plays.
"I'm just locking in. The biggest thing is that we come out there and we play together and we win," he said. "Whether I'm at point guard, shooting guard, small forward, I've got to do my job."
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