Last night was supposed to be Cleveland Cavaliers’ night. They retired Zydrunas Ilgauskas number, raised his jersey to the rafter, and had plenty of his former teammates attend for his special night. His best friend, LeBron James, was also in attendance and they even held a 30-minute ceremony during halftime.
But, the New York Knicks (24-40) didn’t care. They came into Quicken Loans Arena and had one thing on their agenda: Make the damn playoffs. And what do you know? Everyone showed up to play.
The Knicks were propelled to a victory thanks to the performance of their starting lineup. Led by Amar’e Stoudemire, who had himself a vintage game, the heroes in orange and blue are now tied with the Cavaliers for the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference. Oh, and they’re only 3.5 games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the final spot to make the playoffs.
Making the playoffs this year is their ultimate goal, but the Knicks were also hoping to fix up their future too. The man they’ve been chasing for years, Phil Jackson, was recently offered a front office job for the Knicks. It was also rumored that the job Jackson would take up would give him control of all basketball operations for the Knicks. Let that sink in for a moment.
All. Basketball. Operations. That can mean anything from scouting to being the general manager of the New York Knicks. Jackson is reportedly still mulling over the offer and will get back to James Dolan before the end of next week.
So maybe the current Knicks, the one that are fighting for a playoff position, are auditioning for the Zen Master. Because if they keep winning at this pace and showing that they can win with the limited resources they have, perhaps Phil Jackson can put them over the edge to make them the championship team they’ve been looking for for all these years.
But, they need to keep winning now and enjoy going streaking.
THREE GAMES DOWN. A WHOLE LOT MORE TO GO.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- You know, it’s been a long time that the word vintage could be paired up with Amar’e Stoudemire in a positive manner. Last night, STAT was on a mission. He ended the night with a double-double on 17 points and 12 rebounds. He added four rebounds and three emphatic blocks. Oh, he only play 27 minutes and was also part of the play-of-the-game. Off a missed field goal by Jarrett Jack, J.R. Smith grabbed the rebound and led a 3-on-1 fast break that ended with him tossing a pass off the backboard for Stoudemire to catch for an alley-oop lay-up. Fantastic.
- Carmelo Anthony had another normal game for him. He started the game 0-for-6, but then was able to knock down his next six shots immediately after. He never looked back and finished with 26 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks. Last night’s effort requires a ‘Melo shrug since lines like this are normal for him now.
- The double-double monster, Tyson Chandler, continued his menacing ways. Tyson was able to score 15 points, rack up 11 rebounds, and had one block. He also posterized Spencer Hawes off a fantastic feed from Raymond Felton.
- Speaking of the starting point guard, Felton had a decent game, but was able to work the pick-and-roll wonderfully with his big men. Felt ended the night with eight points, six assists, and five rebounds. He even added two rebounds and blocks to his night.
- To round off the sparkling starting lineup performance, J.R. was a #STARER tonight and dropped 17 points off 6-of-13 shooting, including five three-pointers. He was shooting with confidence, moving the ball without hesitation, and making smart decisions off-the-ball.
- After being removed from the starting lineup, Pablo Prigioni, had himself his first double-digit scoring game since December 14th against the Atlanta Hawks. Priggy Smalls scored 11 points on 50 percent shooting. The Cavs were giving him the three-point shot, and Pablo took those shots whenever he could. He smilingly knocked down three shots from beyond the arc.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- Tim Hardaway Jr. is still having some issues with his shot. He was only able to score 5 points off 2-of-6 shooting. He’ll get it together soon. Hopefully.
- The Knicks need to remember to not let their feet of the gas pedal whenever they have a large lead. They let the Cavaliers go on a 7-0 run to end the first half. They also let them take a short 1-point lead in the third quarter. The Knicks were also outscored 26-19 in the third quarter.
- The number that was retired tonight by the Cavaliers, #11, was also the same number that Walt “Clyde” Frazier wore when he finished off his N.B.A. career with the Cavs.
- The Knicks return home to face the struggling Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m.