Adding a productive Timofey Mozgov to the rotation could solve...

Adding a productive Timofey Mozgov to the rotation could solve the Knicks' frontcourt shortcomings. (Jan. 30, 2011) Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

If Timofey Mozgov can keep this up, in another week, he'll get a chance to exact some revenge on the player who obliterated his confidence with an embarrassing posterization that went viral in minutes Nov. 20. Blake Griffin and the Clippers will visit the Garden Feb. 9, just when Mozgov is starting to feel good about himself and his game again.

More importantly, the Knicks are feeling good about Mozgov at a time when they need him most. They needed that 23-point, 14-rebound performance from the Russian rookie in Sunday's win over Detroit - not just for depth on a night when the frontcourt was depleted because of the absences of Wilson Chandler (calf) and Shawne Williams (suspension), but for the health and welfare of Amar'e Stoudemire.

"We need another big man like him who can bang and who is physical like that, to take some of that banging off Amar'e," Raymond Felton said. "You know, he's getting banged up, his knees are getting hit, so you need to take some of that pressure off Amar'e."

Williams will be back for tomorrow night's game against Dallas. Chandler also could be ready, but Mike D'Antoni said Mozgov will remain in the rotation. "Twenty-three and 14 a one-shot deal?" he said. "No, I think I'll try it again."

D'Antoni often has promoted the idea that playing a small lineup lessens the physical demand on Stoudemire because one opposing big man is pulled out to the perimeter to defend Chandler or Williams in the corner, which opens up the middle. It's on the defensive end where it impacts Stoudemire more. At 7-1 and 270 pounds, Mozgov has the size to compete. And with 12 fouls between Mozgov and 6-10 Ronny Turiaf, that gives the Knicks a lot more beef to throw at the other team.

"Before, when Ronny was getting in foul trouble, we were forced to go small," Felton said. "So now, if Ronny gets in foul trouble or Amar'e gets in foul trouble, we've still got Timmy. To get his confidence back is really big for our team."

And, of course, you always consider the Carmelo Anthony factor. There is less of a need to use critical assets to shop for a big man if Mozgov proves he can fill the role. Then again, he potentially could serve as an alternative asset the Nuggets might consider taking in a trade.

But the Knicks aren't suddenly playing Mozgov for showcase purposes. The 24-year-old filled an important need and was a player who kept working hard in practice after losing his spot in the rotation. He was ready when his next opportunity arrived.

"That's just the prime example of a professional," Felton said. "He's a professional."

Notes & quotes: Danilo Gallinari has scored more than 20 points in three of his last five games and has been noticeably more explosive to the rim on drives after coming back from a knee sprain in early January. It's nothing bionic in that brace he wears, just the results of extra work in the weight room with strength coach Greg Brittenham. Plus a slight change in his stride to make his steps shorter so he gets better lift on the jump. "I'm working on a lot of stuff, stuff you don't even see in practice," Gallinari said. "What I do in the weight room, I think, is working out." . . . Landry Fields put up yet another month of consistent, solid numbers (10.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game, 55.7 percent shooting), but his streak of Eastern Conference rookie of the month awards is likely to end. Wizards guard John Wall put up eight double-doubles and averaged 13.7 points and 10.5 assists per game in January.

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