Melo: 'Pablo was spectacular'

May, 8, 2013
5/08/13
12:10
AM ET
Pablo PrigioniJoe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsPablo Prigioni heard his name being chanted at MSG and called it an "amazing" feeling.
Usually around the midway point of the fourth quarter, Pablo Prigioni knows what's coming: a substitution that will keep him on the bench for the rest of the game.

But that wasn't the case on Tuesday night, with Raymond Felton being tended to on the sideline with a twisted left ankle suffered at the end of the third quarter.

Not only did Prigioni play all but the final 1:23 of the Knicks' Game 2 victory, but he left his fingerprints on nearly every possession, offensively and defensively. His presence as the starting point guard helped fuel the Knicks to a 33-13 advantage in the closing period.

"Raymond went out, he [Prigioni] came in and he stepped up big time," Carmelo Anthony said. "Tonight, Pablo was spectacular on both ends of the court. He controlled the game, he controlled the ball, and on the defensive end, he pressured the ball and he got us getting up and pressuring the ball as a team."

At the start of the fourth quarter, Prigioni nailed a 3-pointer and then drove into the paint for a short jumper, both times working off of screens with Tyson Chandler. Then, when he grabbed a defensive rebound and was bringing the ball up the court, the Garden crowd started chanting "Pab-lo, Pab-lo!" That was the first time his name echoed throughout the arena, and he called it an "amazing" feeling.

"I'm really happy, but for me it's only about the team," he said. "It's not about one guy or two guys. You can't believe how happy I am now. I'm really happy with this team. We played good, and for me the most important thing always is the team."

Further along in the fourth quarter, Prigioni dished to Anthony for a 3-pointer, and then he blocked a 3-point attempt by Paul George, who's five inches taller. That's how Prigioni's been all season: contributing to a score on one end, making a stop on the other. His relentless approach is contagious.

"[The fans] got us going and that was Pablo," Jason Kidd said. "Pablo isn't known as a scorer, but he hit some big shots, and also defensively he came up big. He also put guys in position to be successful, and that's what a point guard does."

Reflecting on the Knicks' major momentum swing in the fourth quarter, which included Prigioni throwing an alley-oop to Chandler for a dunk, the Argentine smiled when he realized he was the spark behind it.

"Yeah, I think that maybe was the key moment," he said. "We started to play good on offense. We get stops, we run and everything started to be on our side."

But more excitement radiated from Prigioni when he was asked what it was like to finish the final period -- something he hasn't been used to doing this season.

"I love that," he said. "I love to be on the court in the important moments because I used to do this in the last 10, 15 years. But I understand here, I have great players on the team, great teammates, so much experience in the NBA playoffs, so I try to give all my energy in the minutes that the coach thinks I must be on the court.

"When I'm on the bench, I try to support the guys and I have nothing to complain about that. Today, I have the chance to play that important minutes, I'm really happy. Maybe the next game, no. But I'm ready to play one minute or 25 minutes."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
23.4 3.3 0.8 36.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsA. Stoude... 7.4
AssistsJ. Calderon 3.9
StealsP. Prigioni 1.3
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.3