On Wednesday, the reserve guard showed his old coach just how dangerous he can be when he gets on the floor.
Robinson scored all of his 24 points in the first half, and the Knicks ruined Brown's first game back at Madison Square Garden with a 101-98 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
"Nate's first half, I don't know how much better he can get," Brown said. "It looks like the basket's a bathtub. That was pretty spectacular. I put our best defender on him and Nate lost him a few times. And then he gets a putback during that rally.
"But we withstood the storm, but we were just very, very careless."
Robinson scored 19 points, hitting all four 3-point attempts, during an electric second quarter. He waved his arms to pump up the crowd after one of them, which a few years ago might have made his coach cringe.
"I mean, I'm me," Robinson said. "I just play basketball. I don't worry about mistakes. I hustle and that's what I do. I'm an energy guy, I've got to bring that every night."
Zach Randolph had 25 points and 13 rebounds, Wilson Chandler added 18 points and Jamal Crawford had 14 of his 16 in the second half for the Knicks, who bounced back after poor offensive performances in consecutive losses.
Brown was fired after going 23-59 in 2005-06, a bizarre season in which he publicly feuded with players, and was accused by management of violating MSG media policies and attempting to broker trades behind former team president Isiah Thomas' back.
"We didn't win a lot of games with me as the coach and that's something that I think about a lot because the people here deserve the best," Brown said before the game. "They have great fans, they have great tradition here. One of the reasons I came here is I wanted to be part of that and unfortunately it didn't work out."
Brown didn't have much use for Robinson's showboating as a rookie and benched him for eight straight games after the All-Star break. But the fourth-year guard has become a valuable reserve under Mike D'Antoni, who has no problem with any of Robinson's antics.
"He brings energy every night. You like guys like that, so I'm his biggest cheerleader," D'Antoni said. "He has a talent and a spirit that you don't find very often in this league."
Raymond Felton scored 18 points and Jason Richardson added 17 for the Bobcats, who showed more fight for Brown than the Knicks often did. Emeka Okafor finished with 16 points and 15 boards, but Charlotte dropped its second straight and fell to 1-3 under its new coach.
"We gave up 25 points on turnovers. That's the game," Brown said. "We missed a great opportunity to get a win on the road."
The Knicks had an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter that was trimmed to 91-88 on rookie D.J. Augustin's 3-pointer with about 7½ minutes remaining. Randolph responded with six straight points to push the lead back to nine, but Charlotte fought back again to get within 99-96 after Gerald Wallace's second straight 3-pointer.
Richardson's bucket cut it to one with 10 seconds left, and the Bobcats nearly came up with a steal, but Augustin couldn't come down inbounds. Crawford made two free throws, and Richardson missed a tough 3-point attempt in the closing seconds.
Back in his hometown arena, Brown was loudly booed during pregame introductions, then had a moment in the second quarter that showed he's still getting to know the personnel of his ninth NBA team.
"Jared! Jared!" Brown yelled down the bench, looking for forward Jared Dudley.
"He's in the game," one player called back.
By then, Robinson's blistering stretch had the Knicks up 14 in the period, but the Bobcats tied it at 51 on Adam Morrison's jumper with 2.2 seconds left.
|Wilson Chandler and the Knicks rise above the Bobcats on Larry Brown's return to New York. (Getty Images)|
|New York (2-2) «||19||32||30||20||101|
|CHA:R. Felton 18 Pts
CHA:E. Okafor 15 Reb
CHA:R. Felton 6 Ast
|NY:Z. Randolph 25 Pts
NY:Z. Randolph 13 Reb
NY:C. Duhon 6 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|G. Wallace, SF||45||5-8||3-4||11||3||1||16|
|J. Richardson, SG||42||7-21||3-3||9||2||3||17|
|E. Okafor, C||40||7-11||2-5||15||0||3||16|
|R. Felton, PG||40||9-16||0-0||2||6||3||18|
|J. Dudley, PF||27||6-10||1-1||2||1||2||13|
|D. Augustin, PG||26||5-13||2-2||4||4||1||14|
|M. Carroll, SG||5||1-2||0-0||1||0||2||2|
|A. Morrison, SF||5||1-2||0-0||0||0||0||2|
|N. Mohammed, C||3||0-1||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|L. Johnson, PF||3||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|S. Brown, PG||3||0-0||0-0||0||0||1||0|
|A. Brown, SF||Did Not Play|
|S. May, PF||Did Not Play|
|R. Hollins, C||Did Not Play|
|A. Ajinca, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|C. Duhon, PG||39||3-4||0-0||3||6||1||7|
|J. Crawford, SG||34||5-11||2-3||0||5||1||16|
|Z. Randolph, PF||32||10-15||5-5||13||1||5||25|
|D. Lee, PF||30||4-11||0-0||4||2||2||8|
|Q. Richardson, SF||27||1-9||0-0||6||0||0||3|
|W. Chandler, SF||36||6-14||5-5||7||1||2||18|
|N. Robinson, PG||31||9-12||1-1||3||5||4||24|
|A. Roberson, SF||6||0-1||0-0||0||1||0||0|
|M. Rose, PF||4||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|S. Marbury, PG||Did Not Play|
|J. James, PF||Did Not Play|
|E. Curry, C||Did Not Play|
|J. Jeffries, PF||Did Not Play|
|M. Collins, PG||Did Not Play|
|D. Gallinari, SF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|