Gators in the NBA update

Former Gator star Joakim Noah, left, gestures toward his father, Yannick, who was sitting courtside on Monday.

The Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 1:29 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 1:29 p.m.

Former Gator Joakim Noah made the best of his return to New York Monday afternoon in Madison Square Garden, but it wasn't enough to come away with the victory.

With father Yannick seated courtside, Noah hauled in a season-high 18 rebounds and added three blocks in 28 minutes. It wasn't enough to bring down another former Gator, David Lee, who overcame a first-half injury to help the Knicks grab the lead in the final minute of play en route to a 102-98 victory.

Lee stepped on Chicago forward Luol Deng's foot while backpedaling in transition late in the first half, twisting Lee's ankle and requiring attention and re-taping during the break. He returned to the game in the third quarter, showing obvious pain as he continued through the end of the contest. The result was one of Lee's worst games of the season, an 11-point effort on 3-of-14 shooting.

With Lee struggling to get the same lift on his jumps as he normally would, Noah took advantage. The second-year center controlled the paint for much of the game.

At times, Noah looked to his father with the trademark grin that Gator fans got accustomed to during his three-year stay in Gainesville.

At one point during the broadcast, a sideline reporter talked to Yannick about Joakim's awkward free-throw shooting style. The side-spinning shot has drawn comments from analysts for years, but many didn't know the origin of the style.

"When he was younger, he was very, very small," the elder Noah said to the MSG Network. "All he wanted to do then was shoot 3-pointers, but he wasn't big or strong enough. He had to shoot with both hands to get the ball to the hoop. It always just stuck with him."

Through Monday's games

Udonis Haslem ('99-'02) Miami: C, 39 games, 38 starts, 11.2 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.4 bpg, .5 spg

David Lee ('02-'05) New York: F, 40 games, 32 starts, 15.2 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 2.1 apg, .4 bpg, 1 spg

Al Horford ('04-'07) Atlanta: F/C, 33 games, 33 starts, 10.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.6 bpg, .55 spg

Matt Bonner ('00-'03) San Antonio: C, 39 games, 26 starts, 8.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.2 apg, .4 bpg, 0.5 spg

Joakim Noah ('04-'07) Chicago: F/C, 40 games, 14 starts, 4.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 0.9 apg, 1.3 bpg, .55 spg

Marreese Speights ('06-'08) Philadelphia: C, 38 games, 2 starts, 8.2 ppg, 4 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.9 bpg, .45 spg

Mike Miller ('99-'00) Minnesota: G/F, 30 games, 22 starts, 9.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, .33, bpg, .37 spg

Anthony Roberson ('02-'05) New York: G, 20 games, 5 ppg, 0.8 rpg, 0.9 apg, .05 bpg, .5 spg,

Corey Brewer ('04-'07) Minnesota: F, 15 games, 8 starts, 6.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.2 bpg, 1 spg, (Final stats: Brewer will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL in his right knee suffered Dec. 1)

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