Despite our inability to contain our excitement for October so we can watch Andrea Bargnani brick threes, this dead time is as good a time as ever to look back at last season. If you recall, it was the best we’ve seen the New York Knicks play in quite some time. Carmelo Anthony had an MVP-type season, J.R. Smith won a major individual award, and we rooted for Jason Kidd for one rogue season sandwiched between truckloads of distaste. Despite lacking an ending we’d all hoped for, it was still a fun enough ride. The fact that there were 10 good enough moments to put together the following list proves that we’ve come a long way since the Eddy Curry and Larry Hughes years that, personally, nearly derailed my entire college experience.
Here are the 10 best, most memorable, most awesomest games from last season in my eyes (playoffs included, although there really weren’t too many of those to pick from). Hint: the Knicks won every one of them.
Thursday, Jan. 24 – Knicks 89, Celtics 86
The Knicks’ first win in Boston in about a decade. It ended when Paul Pierce harmlessly dribbled a ball off his leg and out of bounds. ENJOY THAT, BROOKLYN.
Thursday, Jan. 3 – Knicks 100, Spurs 83
The Knicks complete the season sweep of the should-have-been champion Spurs. This game included the insane J.R. Smith knee-catch-reverse-alley-oop.
Wednesday, April 27 – Knicks 98, Hawks 82
Earl Barron played 36 minutes, scored 11 points and grabbed 18 rebounds.
Ok, on to the real list:
10. Thursday, Dec. 13 – Knicks 116, Mike and Dan D’Antoni’s Lakers 107
It’s always an event when the Lake Show makes it’s annual appearance at Madison Square Garden. While it may not have been as memorable as Linsanity or Kobe dropping a building record 61 points, the Knicks decimated LA in Mike D’Antoni’s return to The Garden (the final score made it seem a lot closer; the Knicks led 68-49 at half). I suppose if you like Mike D’Antoni as a coach, this one didn’t mean mean that much to you. But I am not one of those people. And Dan D’Antoni? Dan D’Antoni is the worst.
9. Friday, Nov. 2 – Knicks 104, Heat 84
Home and/or season openers are always fun (especially this season’s upcoming scorcher against the the Milwaukee Bucks) . The Knicks’ original opener was postponed, so this became the season opener, and the Knicks laid the wood to the defending champs. Melo led with an efficiency-be-damned 30 points, while the rest of the team set the tone for the entire season by taking and making a lot of threes.
8. Friday, May 3 – Knicks 88, Celtics 80 (Game 6 ECQF)
I thought long and hard about where to rank this game. The obvious reason for ranking it highly would be because it clinched the Knicks’ first playoff series win since the 2000 Eastern Conference semifinals. The Knicks could have beaten Nigeria in a seven game series and as long as an “NBA PLAYOFFS” decal was slapped on the court, I would have been ecstatic. The fact that it was against, albeit an aging and decrepit version of, our rival Boston Celtics made it that much sweeter. Paul Pierce shot 4-of-18 and 1-of-9 from deep. Four of eighteen. One of nine. FOUR OF EIGHTEEN AND ONE OF NINE. Happy happy joy joy.
Where you could obviously rank this low, or make an honest case that it was the worst game of the year, was that it almost nearly became the worst moment in Knicks history. A laugher-turned-nailbiter of the most frightening way thanks to a succession of basketball nonsense that wouldn’t have happened in Space Jam. After going up 3-0 in the series, the Knicks were so ridiculously close to letting Boston tie things up and force a Game 7, a Game 7 nobody in their right mind would have picked the Knicks to win had they completed the Game 6 collapse. Thankfully, when it looked like things were going the way of the Hindenburg, a lazy Paul Pierce pass was picked off by Iman Shumpert, who slam dunked the collapse into sweet oblivion. It was the worst possible way to get to an end goal that was so desirable and a long time coming.
7. Wednesday, Dec. 5 – Knicks 100, Bobcats 98
Buzzer beaters are always fun. When they come on J.R. Smith step-backs, they’re exhilarating. Even when the opponent is the Charlotte Bobcats. In December.
6. Wednesday, Dec. 26 – Knicks 99, Suns 97
Buzzer beaters are always fun. When they come on J.R. Smith step-backs, they’re exhilarating. Even when the opponent is the Phoenix Suns. In December.
5. Thursday, Dec. 6 – Knicks 112, Heat 92
There were a couple of games early in the season that are notable because they were sort of “Hey, The Knicks Are Actually Good” moments. Some of us believed the Knicks would be good before last season, but many others did not think this would be the case (and still never believed they were, because, you know, James Dolan and Isiah Thomas and too many three pointers, or something). The Knicks came into the game riding their hot 13-4 start but were going up against a full-strength Heat squad without Melo. Often times low expectations can do wonders. The Knicks started Kurt Thomas and Ronnie Brewer, James White played 16 minutes, Steve Novak 34, and yet the Knicks totally dismantled Miami. Much of this was thanks to Raymond Felton who went certifiably nuts, going 6-of-10 from deep overall including a red-hot stretch in the third quarter that put the game out of reach. As a team, the Knicks went 18-of-44 from behind the stripe, with Pablo Prigioni, J.R. Smith, Jason Kidd, Novak and White all connecting (Rasheed Wallace, by the way, went 0-of-6).
One negative offshoot of this game was that it added some ammo to the “Knicks are better without Melo” mob, which is a club I don’t understand nor want membership to.
4. Monday, March 18 – Knicks 93, Jazz 80
Otherwise and forever known as The Kurt Thomas Game. The shorthanded Knicks had lost the first four games of a five-game west coast trip. Pretty desperate for a win and without his full roster to work with, Mike Woodson leaned on the injured Thomas, who played the final 26 gritty minutes of his NBA career (a season high by over 7 minutes). Thomas had six points, three blocks, three rebounds, two assists, and played stout defense, all while jawing with choice members of the Jazz crowd. The Knicks went on to their next 12 games. Kurt Thomas!
3. Sunday, April 7 – Knicks 125, Thunder 120
During the midst of the Knicks’ 13-game win streak, many had their eye on this game as the point it would end. Which we probably could have all lived with. The Knicks came in winners of 11-straight and had almost clinched the second seed in the East (not that it ultimately meant anything), but were facing one of the league’s best teams, on the road, in a national TV game. In the second quarter, the Knicks got hot from downtown behind Kidd and Chris Copeland, staying in the game despite their defense not doing much of anything. The Thunder’s D complied as well, and Melo took advantage with a now-typical big April day: 36 points (15-of-29) and 12 rebounds, leading New York to an impressive, shootout 125-120 win.
2. Thursday, Nov. 15 – Knicks 104, Spurs 100
The biggest of the early season eye-openers. The Knicks came in 5-0, but had beaten the 76ers twice, the Magic and Mavericks after a season-opening win over Miami. This proved to be the first big road test for the Knicks, one most of us thought they’d probably fail. I think we’d all have been okay with it if they did, as long as they didn’t get embarrassed. The Knicks hung tight with the Spurs throughout, but it looked like they were going to get their first loss wound down. The Spurs were ahead by 10 with just over six minutes left, but a pair of threes from Jason Kidd kept things interesting. Ray Felton and Tyson Chandler chipped the deficit down while the defense held strong, setting up, at the time, J.R Smith’s biggest shot as a Knick. Earl Jr. drained a 3-pointer with 1:48 left to give the Knicks a two point lead. Kidd followed up with another three, and the Knicks kept their season-starting streak alive in quite dramatic, forceful fashion.
1. Tuesday, Dec. 11 – Knicks 100, Nets 97
After the season opener was postponed due to Hurricane Sandy, the Nets took the first round of the new “Battle of New York”. In Round 2, the Nets ran out to a sizable early lead, which the Knicks cut down to four entering halftime. The lead ping-ponged a bit in the second half; much of the inertia on the Knicks side coming from Melo who dropped 45 points on 15-of-24 shooting. But the biggest shot of the game came from former Net and new Knick Jason Kidd, who broke a tie in the final seconds with a straight-on three while being fouled. Kidd missed the freebie, giving the Nets a chance they thankfully didn’t convert on and the Knicks had their first of hopefully many signature wins in Brooklyn.