Anytime the Knicks and the Bulls battle on a weekend afternoon in the Spring, I’m going to get emotionally involved. I decided to skip putting on stirrups and rubbing dirt on my clothes and pretending I just got back from little league but I still had the emotional experience of a nine-year old.
By beating the Bulls 100-99 in spectacular fashion, the Knicks got the biggest regular season win I can remember, I’d have to think since their push for the playoffs in the 1998-99 lockout-shortened season. And not only was it spectacular, it was the season in a microcosm.
When the Knicks built a 21-point first half lead, we were contenders. The twitterverse was going nuts and I can only assume the Post was gathering its headline writers to think up silly puns that imply the Knicks were a lock for the Finals. Then Chicago started to chip away and the collective mentality was that the Knicks were pretenders who run too much iso. Wait a second though. Carmelo Anthony took care of business with a huge three to force overtime and a second with eight seconds left in OT, this one to give the Knicks a 100-99 win. And we’re contenders again.
I’m not going to lie - I felt all those emotions and more. Today my focus is that the Knicks are now in seventh place, more or less tied with the Sixers. They play in Chicago on Tuesday. You’d have to be crazy to bet on New York in that one, and then comes the big matchup with Milwaukee on Wednesday night. No time for reflection, it’s already time for the Knicks to move on for the next one.
Even still, let’s give out three stars of the game in honor of the start of the NHL playoffs this week:
Carmelo Anthony: 43 points on 16-31 shooting, 4-5 from three including the game-tying and game winning threes. Seven boards, three assists. Took on two excellent defenders in Luol Deng and Taj Gibson and finished going at Joakim Noah again and again. And those two threes were stone cold. It was the best performance by a Knick since he went for 42 and 17 against Boston in Game 2 of the playoffs last year. Notice a pattern? Can two be a pattern? OK fine. Notice a trend?
Tyson Chandler: eight points, sixteen rebounds. He gets this star just for the multiple tip-outs that led to the Melo three with eight seconds left. Everything else is just gravy. Awesome, awesome gravy.
I don’t care if Derrick Rose just got unfrozen like Brendan Fraser in Encino Man, forcing the reigning MVP into an 8-26 shooting, eight turnover game is incredibly impressive. It’s even more impressive if you are a 21-year old rookie. Iman Shumpert’s on-ball defense is absurd. He easily could have been second, but I broke the tie by considering some ill-advised shots from Shump.
So that was exciting. You want to know the best part? If the standings hold for another week, we get to do this all again - a Sunday afternoon battle with our slated first round opponent - when the Knicks take on the Heat at MSG next Sunday. Oh my goodness.