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NEW YORK -- From the outset of Saturday afternoon's matinee, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose and New York Knicks center Amare Stoudemire seemed to make the Knicks' 103-95 win a personal one-on-one battle.
Stoudemire, who finished the day with 20 points, knocked Rose down hard to the floor on separate occasions and stuffed his shot at the rim once. Rose, who finished the day with 25 points, made several acrobatic plays at the rim and seemed more vocal than usual out on the floor with Stoudemire. The pair exchanged words midway through the fourth quarter, but Rose said after the game he has no hard feelings toward Stoudemire.
"That's basketball," he said. "We got heated up for a minute, but it's nothing more than that."
After Stoudemire stuffed his shot early in the game, Rose acknowledged the play by nodding his head toward the All-Star and saying "OK." As for Stoudemire's body checks, the 22-year-old point guard didn't sound as if he thought they crossed the line.
"It was just a basketball play, where things are going to get physical," Rose said. "He's a big man, that's what he's supposed to do. It's just basketball. I'd get tired if I kept on driving to the hole too, if that was someone else."
For his part, Stoudemire was just happy that his Knicks were able to get a win over Rose and the Bulls on the Christmas Day stage.
"It was great," Stoudemire said. "It was a lot of fun. We know Chicago is a team to beat right now. They've been playing great this year with the help of Carlos [Boozer]. He's a handful. The great thing about it is that we got the win. It was a tough, hard-fought battle, but it was a total team effort."
Rose knows that the Bulls and Knicks are on the verge of rekindling the rivalry that became so heated and he's looking forward to the challenges that come with it. In the short term, he's not going to allow Stoudemire, or any other big man, to intimidate him.
"I'm not going to stop coming," he said.Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com.