Mozgov draws another tough assignment

NEWARK, N.J. -- The last time the Knicks faced the Nets, a 111-100 win on Nov. 30, Timofey Mozgov only played eight minutes off the bench, collecting two points and four fouls.

Saturday night, not only will Mozgov start at center, but he'll likely see more minutes now that Amare Stoudemire is out with a sprained right big toe and Ronny Turiaf is returning after an ankle injury.

But it won't come any easier against the Nets. One night removed from facing Lakers center Andrew Bynum, Mozgov will be matching up with Brook Lopez at the Prudential Center. While Bynum made it difficult for Mozgov in the post, Lopez has another layer of offense in his game.

"It was really hard [against Bynum]," said Mozgov, who posted seven points and 11 rebounds against the Lakers on Friday night. "He's very big and a long guy. He's really hard to play defense against. [Lopez] is a very good player in the low post and he wants to shoot from the free throw line."

Mike D'Antoni said that while Mozgov got into early foul trouble Friday night because of his inexperience, he thought he played well last night and will contribute again against the Nets.

"I think Timmy will do his job and work hard," D’Antoni said. "Timmy's been playing well, but against most guys in this league, you can still have good games. The main thing is you play hard and do the right things, then you give the team a chance to win."

Looking ahead, D’Antoni thinks Mozgov will continue to improve this season, but he's still at least a year away from reaching his potential.

"I think Timmy's really coming on and the thing I'm more impressed about him is his work ethic," D’Antoni said. "He has a routine every day. He puts himself in the best position to play well and I think as we go on -- maybe not this month, next month, next year -- I think we can get him to be a very good offensive player. He's a little bit limited right now, but I think he'll improve and be a good player in this league."