Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. — LeBron, D-Wade and Chris Bosh are hogging most of the NBA media attention down in Miami.
The Celtics of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Shaquille O’Neal have gotten their share of love, too.
But outside of Orlando, you don’t hear much about Dwight Howard and the Magic.
With Orlando set to come to Madison Square Garden Tuesday night, Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire says it would be a mistake to discount the Magic in the Eastern Conference.
“I mean, we’re not overlooking them,” Stoudemire said after Monday’s practice. “I don’t think the NBA teams and players are overlooking those guys. We know how good they are and how good they can be. The rest of the world may be caught up in the hype, but I think Orlando is a pretty good team.”
The Magic are coming off a 96-70 beatdown at the hands of James, Wade and Bosh Friday night in Miami and will have had three full days of rest by the time they take the Garden floor.
“It’s over with. They didn’t win a championship; they won Game 3,’’ Howard said of the Heat to the team’s official Website. “We practiced [on Sunday] like we were supposed to. It was a really bad loss and we all know that, but it’s over with. What are we supposed to do? Pout and be mad because we lost? Yes, but after it was over, the sun still came up the next day and we’re moving forward. It’s not like [the Heat] won a championship ring.’’
Howard and Co. will no doubt be primed and ready to go against the Knicks, who have lost back-to-back games at Boston and and in the home opener against Portland.
Stoudemire, who matched up on Howard during his time in Phoenix, said the primary goal in defending Howard was to keep him out of the paint.
“Just keep him outside and make him shoot that jumper if he wants to shoot it,” Stoudemire said. “Try to keep him off the boards.”
Timofey Mozgov, the Knicks’ 7-1 Russian center, will also get some time on Howard and head coach Mike D’Antoni just hopes he doesn’t get two quick early fouls, as he has been prone to do.
“I think Timmy will guard him and he might get two fouls, you can’t worry about it,” D’Antoni said. “It’s a great learning experience for him, as it was with Shaq. But I think Timmy’s coming on. I think little by little he keeps doing the right things. I think it’s a good outing for a rookie.”
Ronny Turiaf, who missed practice with a bruised back, is also expected to play Tuesday and could guard Howard.
Of course, D’Antoni could opt to combat Howard with a smaller lineup featuring 6-10 Anthony Randolph on Orlando’s big man. Randolph, who last week was ruled out for two weeks, practiced Monday despite a sprained ankle and his role for Tuesday remains unclear.
“Right now it would be Anthony [on Howard in a small lineup] if we knock down shots all over the place,” D’Antoni said. “So yeah, you can get away it. But if you’re not shooting the ball well and they’re pounding you inside, you may be in big trouble. It’s something that we’ll look at and see if that’s the night we can get away with it.”
If the Knicks lose this game, they’ll fall to 1-3 overall and 0-2 at home, hardly the kind of start they expected when they invested $100 million Stoudemire last summer.
And with the team headed to Chicago on Thursday, the schedule doesn’t get easier.
So more than anything, the Knicks need to find a way to come away with a win against the overlooked powerhouse in the Eastern Conference.
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.