By Ryan Schneider
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Eight days ago I wrote about the painful loss the Knicks suffered at the hands of the Portland Trailblazers. Something happened last Tuesday that hasn’t happened in years. The Knicks got a break…you want to call it asbestos, sure call it asbestos… whatever fell from the Garden ceiling was the reason the Knicks weren’t a 1-3 basketball team. Of course the game against the Orlando Magic will be made up at a later date, but I thought from purely a confidence standpoint, this was a huge advantage for the Knicks.
They had a week to prepare for the Bulls, a team that had looked very, very good over the first ten days of the season. And then, what happened? The Knicks walked into the United Center for their first nationally televised game with the Bulls in years and they blew the doors off of them. 16 three pointers made, 30 from Toney Douglas and a breakout game for Danilo Gallinari…Stoudemire’s squad was now 2-1 on the road, 2-2 overall, had a win against a formidable Eastern Conference opponent, and a game the next night against a young and very beatable Wizards team.
Back-to-back games scare me in the NBA. 24 hours earlier, the Knicks had been in Chicago, they get to New York early Friday morning, and have to turn around and play a game that night. It’s exhausting, physically demanding, and can be mentally draining. But…the Knicks not only played well, they blew out the Wizards too. Outscored them 31-18 in the fourth quarter. The Knicks were 3-2!
All-of-a-sudden I started having crazy thoughts…remember, it’s been years, since Knick fans have had the opportunity to thoroughly get excited about their team. And here is where I started to let the excitement get the best of me. I assumed we’d dominate the Sixers at home, go on the road, take down the Bucks, outscore the Warriors back here at the Garden, take care of the Timberwolves (the worst team in the league) and by next Sunday, the New York Knicks are 7-2! The basketball Gods were on our side. That’s why the Magic game was cancelled, that’s why the Knicks shot 66.7 percent from 3 against the Bulls. The Blue and Orange were returning to the top!
Was it wrong of me to get my hopes up? Yes…absolutely. Had my thinking become irrational? No question about it. I’ll admit, it was a great feeling to have…that excitement, that enthusiasm, that energy starting to seep back into the Garden. But those feelings were short-lived, because yesterday hurt. It was maddening to watch. It was a sure-fire missed opportunity by the New York Knicks.
Rather than heading into Milwaukee with a three game winning streak, the next couple of days will be spent trying to figure out how the Knicks will win games in the fourth quarter. One three pointer after another bounced helplessly off the rim….one Knick defender after another left their feet defensively and fouled a Sixer in the act of shooting. Here’s how the last six minutes looked…1-12 from the field, 2 turnovers, 2-4 from the free throw line, and gave up 16 points. To sum up, they were outscored an embarrassing 26-15 in the fourth quarter. Like sand sliding through fingers, Mike D’Antoni watched a 4-2 regular season start turn into a disappointing 3-3.
NBA League Pass on-line is one of the most impressive things I’ve seen. The games stream in HD…every game is accessible, and you have 24 hours to watch every game that happened the previous day. For those Die-Hard hoop fans that can’t access a TV for every game, League Pass online is a worthwhile investment.
The Boston Celtics made the Oklahoma City Thunder look like a very average team last night. Despite the average age of the “ancient” Celtics squad, they play defense better than anyone in the league. Their team defense is fun to watch. With Big Baby accepting his role as a team first guy, his charge-taking ability makes it that much harder for opposing guards to attack the basket.
How about the New Orleans Hornets? They are one of two undefeated teams left in the league (the other team is the Lakers). And you want to talk about impressive wins? The Hornets beat the Nuggets and Heat at home and the Spurs and Rockets on the road. They are the third best team in the league in points allowed. At the end of the day, defense prevails, and some of the best teams in the league have showed prowess on the defensive end of the floor.