Upon being acquired from the Warriors, Ronny Turiaf was expected to be the Knicks’ starting center. Known for his intense defense, Turiaf had immediately garnered comparisons to other Knicks’ big men greats such as Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason. The team was optimistic he would deliver such a presence.
Instead, Coach D’Antoni went with a young prospect, naming Timofey Mozgov the team’s starting center to start the season. While Mozgov has proven to be highly ineffective thus far, Turiaf made his impact coming off the bench, self proclaiming himself as the “quarterback” of the Knicks’ defense.
The ironic thing is, Turiaf is right. After lacking a defensive intensity for so many seasons, Turiaf enlists a different mentality for the Knicks. Besides simply being a big man who throws his body around (and that he does), Turiaf shot-blocking ability and rebounding constantly gives the team a boost.
During Knicks’ recent six game losing streak, much of which Turiaf sat out of with an injury, the team certainly felt the void.
Coach D’Antoni has since conveyed that he was unaware of the type of role Turiaf would have played entering the season, the fact of the matter is, Turiaf’s specialty is the type of impact he makes. He won’t score 20 points, nor is he a stat sheet stuffer. He will, however, be seen diving for a loose ball, lunging over an opponent to block a shot, or even pumping his fists and patting his teammates on the block after a score.
After being inserted into the starting lineup for the first time this season, Turiaf played 30 minutes, recording 7 rebounds and 2 blocks, during the Knicks’ 113-106 victory over the Kings. The long losing streak was finally broken. Defense wins ballgames, and that’s what Turiaf is all about.
Turiaf is sure to be in the starting lineup again Friday night as the Knicks visit his former team, the Golden State Warriors. The same cannot be said, however, for Turiaf's former Warriors teammates Anthony Randolph and Kelenna Azubuike. Randolph is at risk of receiving a "DNP-Coach's Decision" after falling out of the rotation, and Azubuike is out nursing an injury.
On a team that is similar to the Knicks in regards to how much offensive firepower they have, Turiaf is sure to lead the way in stopping such offensive prowess.
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