We're down to two sports now, with football season over with (at least in New York) and baseball season still two cold months away. Maybe we should spice things up with some Pro Bowlers' Tour coverage (can someone please bring back Bowling for Dollars) or include the Harlem Globetrotters ("They won their 2,998th consecutive game over the Washington Generals this week"). Speaking of Washington, the New York Knicks and New York Rangers both treated their DC opponents as if they were the Generals on Monday, sweeping the New York/Washington matchups. And speaking of exhibition games, the NHL All-Star Game and the Pro Bowl were both played on Sunday, with one team scoring a whole lot of points/goals and the losing team scoring a whole lot of points/goals but not quite as many as the winning team. The biggest game of the week, though, was the Knicks' victory over the hated Miami Heat. And now on to the Player of the Week:
Timofey Mozgov: This week we're going to pay tribute to the little guy who contributes (even if he's over seven feet tall), the guy who comes off the bench and goes above and beyond, the guy who nobody expects will turn out to be the star of the game. And who better than Mozgov? He had the game of his short career on Sunday in the Knicks' win over Detroit, pouring in 23 points and grabbing 14 boards. And just his presence alone moves Amar'e Stoudemire to his natural position of forward.
The Russian rookie hadn't played since Jan. 9, the most points he had scored was nine back on Nov. 7 and his highest rebound total was six on Nov. 27, so he blew his previous career highs out of the water. While Stoudemire, Raymond Felton and Danilo Gallinari contributed as usual, which led to three wins in the four games played this week, other non-stars who lent a hand were Shawne Williams, who had nine points and five rebounds in the win over Washington, helped clamp down on LeBron James and scored 11 in the victory over the Heat and had a Ron Artest Hat Trick in the loss to the Hawks, with 12 points, eight rebounds and one fight. And Landry Fields had a vintage Fields game against the Heat (can a rookie have a vintage game?), when he scored 19 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and dished out six assists.
Runners-up & Other Notables
Brook Lopez: The New Jersey Nets won their first two games of the week, ending a successful 4-1 home stand. Lopez was the hero on Monday, in the win over Cleveland, when he hit his first-ever NBA game-winning shot with 1.4 seconds left. He poured in 28 points in the victory and also went crazy by grabbing seven rebounds, which for him is like a Bill Russell moment. He scored 17 in the win over Memphis and 26 in the loss to the Bucks. And in Tuesday's loss to the Pacers, he had a classic Lopez game with 28 points and one rebound. Kris Humphries did the opposite on Saturday with 10 rebounds and one point. Anthony Morrow had a nice week, with 16, 19, seven (plagues by foul trouble) and 16 points. Saturday's loss was the team's 11th consecutive road defeat, though. Avery Johnson said of the Nets' road woes, "Hopefully when we keep getting our faces smashed in we'll get it." The coach was thinking of bringing Antonio Cromartie in as an inspiration to his team, as the colorful Jet is always willing to do a little face smashing. Just ask Matt Hasselbeck.
Mats Zuccarello: The Rangers played two games this week, beating the Capitals on Monday in a shootout and losing a tough one to Florida the following night. Zuccarello didn't actually score an official goal, but he made it four-for-four in shootouts, tallying the second of three for the Blueshirts in their win over Washington. He faked out goalie Braden Holtby so badly that Zuccarello had a wide-open net to easily slip the puck in. Wojtek Wolski did the same thing, and Artem Anisimov netted the winner. Zuccarello piled up three assists the next night, as he's seamlessly fitting into the NHL and giving the Rangers much-needed offense. And it's fun watching the 5-7 dynamo leap into the arms of giant Brian Boyle after a goal is scored. Boyle had a goal and an assist himself this week, as did Marian Gaborik, though he had no idea that he actually scored a goal after it bounced off of him. Marc Staal and Henrik Lundqvist were on the losing end of the All-Star Game, but Staal did get to play on the same team as his brother. And the Chris Drury goal-scoring watch continues.
Kevin Poulin: The young goaltender gets the New York Islanders' nod this week for his performance against Pittsburgh on Tuesday, in which he only allowed one puck to slip by him. Unfortunately, his teammates couldn't score at all. And he did it amid the Evgeni Nabokov mess hovering over the team. Maybe it's for the best if Poulin refines his game in the minors, but he's getting experience either way. The Isles lost their other game of the week, with Michael Grabner and Andy MacDonald scoring the only goals for the team. And Grabner was the fastest skater in the skills competition on Saturday.
Patrik Elias: The New Jersey Devils only played one game this week, losing to the Red Wings, 3-1. Elias notched a goal and an assist in Sunday's All-Star Game, but still came out on the losing end. At least he didn't get chosen last like poor Phil Kessel.