GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Injured Knicks forward Tim Thomas ripped Nets forward Kenyon Martin as a phony tough guy and criticized his teammates, too, for failing to respond to the flagrant foul that sidelined him.
Thomas will not play in Game 3 Thursday night, when New Jersey will try to take a 3-0 lead over New York, but if he makes it back for Game 4, a confrontation is all but guaranteed.
"My goal is just to get back out there on the court before this series is over so I can go hit somebody. That's it. That's all I'm looking forward to," Thomas said Wednesday. "What's been done to me is going to be done to them. It's very simple."
Thomas' statements were his first public comments since he was fouled by Jason Collins in Game 1 while going up for a dunk. Thomas took a hard fall, bruising his back, hip and ankle.
Thomas said he has not yet seen a videotape of the foul, but he considered it dirty, with Collins never attempting to go for the ball as the Nets' center has claimed.
Thomas said he was more angry with Collins than with his teammates -- but only because the rest of the Knicks still have a chance to retaliate.
"When I was laying on the floor I was expecting somebody to do something, to push, to shove, anybody. But it never happened," Thomas said. "In that situation you have to respond. You have to, that's the bottom line.
"For it to go down that way and for nobody to really respond, I'm just waiting for somebody to do something."
The Knicks were more physical in Game 2 than they were in Game 1, yet it was the Nets who continued to commit the hardest fouls. Richard Jefferson clobbered Stephon Marbury on a breakaway, and Kenyon Martin responded to an elbow from Dikembe Mutombo with a vicious swipe and shove that earned him a technical foul.
Thomas saved his most caustic comments for Martin, repeatedly calling him "fugazy" -- a slang term for fake used in the mafia movie "Donnie Brasco."
"Just knowing his character, he's a fugazy guy. I read a comment that Jason Richardson said nobody wants to mess with a pit bull, but I've never seen a pit bull who picks and chooses who he wants to bite," Thomas said.
"He's fugazy as far as the whole tough guy role. You get techs and you get fines and that makes you tough? Because your game is wild and crazy, that makes you tough? When a scuffle breaks out, you have 13 guys that can protect you. When it's you and someone else, what happens then?
"Somebody call Don King and hook it up for us."
Martin was not available to respond to Thomas' comments, which were made after the Nets had finished practice.
New Jersey has defeated New York in five of their six meetings this season, the only loss coming March 19 at Madison Square Garden, the site of Game 3, on a night when Jason Kidd was injured.
Kidd's only appearance at the Garden this season came Jan. 4 when he had 35 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds in a 95-85 victory.
"In the enemy's building, it's always hostile on the road. We understand that," Kidd said. "I think the Garden brings the best out of everybody in the sense all the great games that have been played there, the history alone. It ranks up there with the Forum, the old Boston Garden. The big thing is the history when you walk into that building. You can feel the electricity."
Thanks to Thomas' comments, they'll probably feel the tension, too.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kenyon Martin taped the back page of a newspaper with the headline "Whiny Tim" to his practice jersey Thursday before his New Jersey Nets' Game 3 against the Knicks.
Martin also mocked and challenged Knicks forward Tim Thomas, who criticized his own teammates and called Martin a phony tough guy a day earlier.
"He knows I'm going to be there at 7 o'clock tonight," Martin said. "He knows where to find me. ... Lock me and him in a room together and see who comes out."
A league spokesman said NBA vice president Stu Jackson was monitoring the developments, which have provided the most intrigue in a one-sided series. New Jersey won the first two games by an average of 21 points.
To the amusement of teammates and the Nets' staff, Martin walked out of the trainer's room at the team's practice facility wearing the back page of the New York Daily News across the front of his jersey. He then proceeded to insult Thomas for several minutes.
"If you take a poll around the league and asked people who they want on their team, they're not going to say Tim Thomas. Teammates never questioned how hard I played," Martin said. "They know what they're going to get out of me when I step on the court. I'm not like Pandora's box -- you open it up and don't know what you're going to get. That's him."
Thomas hasn't played since being flagrantly fouled by Nets center Jason Collins in Game 1, taking a hard fall and bruising his hip, lower back and ankle. He has been ruled out of Game 3.
Thomas made his first public comments since the foul at practice Wednesday, criticizing teammates for failing to retaliate and dismissing Martin as "fugazy" -- a slang term for a fake.
"I think it applies to him more than me," Martin said.
Asked to rank the use of the word "fugazy" on a 1 to 10 insult scale, Martin gave it a zero.
"If it was coming from someone who did something in his career, maybe," Martin said. "Coming from him, it's nothing."
Amid the increasing tension, Nets coach Lawrence Frank said he felt no need to remind his team of the NBA rule prohibiting players from leaving the bench area during a fight.
"Our focus is on winning, our focus isn't on bench control or fighting," Frank said.
Thomas wasn't at the Knicks' morning shootaround but was expected to be in street clothes at Thursday's game.
Martin was surprised Thomas would make such inflammatory comments on the eve of a game he wasn't planning to play in.
"He's a career underachiever. He hasn't done nothing in his career. I've been to the finals twice," Martin said. "His teammates in Milwaukee last year questioned him. That should tell you something right there.
"Sooner or later his teammates now are going to start questioning him calling people out when he's not playing."
"I've been to the finals twice...and been a completely worthless contributor to my team on both occasions!" Being from Milwaukee I wasn't too big of a fan of Tim Thomas as he never stepped up to his expectations and his paycheck, but Martin is one of the biggest jaw-jackers in the league to never have stepped up in the clutch and done anything of worth. Here's to seeing him get the flu again as the Nets are bitch-slapped out of the tourney by Detroit (I think that's who they'll be slated to face, unless we commit a miracle and beat Detroit).
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Surprised not to see a predictions thread for the season yet, but wanted to throw this up here anyway. Prediction for the Cleveland Cavaliers overall record this year: 55-29 with a 9-7 division record, and a 37-17 conference record.