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By Rich Coutinho
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The Knicks had a perfect opening night Friday at Madison Square Garden, crushing the champion Miami Heat 104-84.
But more importantly, Mike Woodson’s team got a chance to unveil their newfangled offense, getting a combined 15 assists from their three point guards–Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton, and Pablo Prigioni — who helped orchestrate a 52-percent shooting night from beyond the three-point line.
So much was made about the failure to sign Jeremy Lin in the offseason, but the Knicks’ brain trust signed Kidd and despite his age, brought in a wealth of experience you just can’t put a price tag on.
“It is really all about the extra pass,” said Kidd. “And we stress that in every practice. We saw that tonight.”
For Kidd, this was a surreal night–wearing the home uniform in a building where he has — many times — sent the home crowd to the exits moaning and groaning. But on this night he heard cheers.
My sense watching the Knicks late last year: they were very much like a poker hand with possibilities, but were missing that one card that would make a winning hand. Both Kidd and Felton fit this team like a glove, and we saw it against a team that preaches help-out defense. That makes it even more impressive.
And let’s not forget Carmelo — excuse me — Melo Anthony, who pumped in 30 points and ripped down 10 boards, setting the tone early with the help of his two starting guards.
“We were super-focused tonight, all of us,” said Anthony. “That was evident very early on in this game. I think we fed off the fans and they were amazing.”
Amazing indeed — and on a night when the wounds of Superstorm Sandy were still firmly in our minds due to the suffering of so many. Can a thing like a basketball game heal those wounds? Of course not. But it allowed people to take a brain-break from the horror of the past few days.
That in no way softens the reality of what lies ahead for this city. The Knicks will be a big part of that rebuilding process, as the people at the Garden take that responsibility very seriously. I worked in the company for 10 years and can personally vouch for that.
But for one night, Manhattan sang in a way only a Knicks game can inspire.
The world’s most famous arena has always had the best fans, and they proved it again on Friday night.
And that’s a good thing.
Your thoughts on Friday’s win? Let us know in the comments below…