The New York Knicks defended Madison Square Garden for just the fifth time in seventeen opportunities tonight, turning back a highly talented Portland Trailblazers team. The win tied the Knicks for the longest winning streak in the Eastern Conference (3 games, Milwaukee).
During Carmelo’s year-long exile from professional basketball, New York faithful wondered if they would ever see their best player since Patrick Ewing back on The Mecca’s floor hitting some turnaround fifteen footers. Once the Trailblazers brought Melo back into the NBA Family, the New Year’s Day matchup between Portland and a Knicks team bound for the lottery became the must watch midseason game of the year.
Tonight’s game started off the way many had hoped, with the former Syracuse Orangeman getting a standing ovation in The World’s Most Famous Arena.
Carmelo managed to turn back the clock and pour in a season-high 26 on a very efficient 11-17 shooting night including 3-5 from beyond the arc. Unfortunately for Portland, he had the best shooting night of any of their big three stars. Damian Lilliard shot an abysmal 5-20 from the floor, and CJ McCollum managed just 6-16. As a team they only hit slashes of 39/31/60.
On the other side, my beloved New York Knickerbockers are beginning to turn the corner. Posting a three game winning streak in which they have had all three opponents under 100 points in today’s fast-paced NBA. Interim Coach Mike Miller has the team riding a 6-6 record through his first twelve games of the season. Whether this is all coaching and schematics, or the veteran role players beginning to search for greener pastures with better play, I will take the brief moments of Knicks happiness I can get.
Now, if you will so indulge me.
- The New York Knicks are currently the winningest team of the 2020’s (1-0)
- They are unbeaten in the decade (1-0)
- Kristaps Porzingis is a weak-kneed Brook Lopez who lost to the Knicks twice this year (2-0)
- Mike Miller has Julius Randle looking like his talented wasn’t stolen in a magic basketball and taken to a cartoon world.
- This team, left for dead by everyone on the planet except for those willing to consume as much Mike Breen and Walt Clyde Frazier as possible, is just 5 games back of the 8 seed.
The team’s two young defensive standouts; Mitchell Robinson and Frank Ntilikina posted team highs in +/- at 22 and 23 respectively. With Robinson going 11-11 from the floor as he is being utilized more and more as a pick and roll option in Miller’s offense. The French Prince posted double digit assists (10) and nine points. Most importantly, Frank caught a body.
Reggie Bullock made his team debut for New York where he scored 11 points and posted a +19 in just 15 minutes off the bench. All 6 members of the Knicks bench posted a positive point differential, as did three of the team’s five starters.
Next up for the Knicks is a Friday night matchup against the hapless Phoenix Suns, who after a hot start have lost 8 of their last 9 and are currently getting their doors blown off by LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.