On a night where New York honored the 40th anniversary of the 1973 NBA Championship team, the current Knicks did their best to prove that their own championship aspirations are legitimate.
The Knicks extended their season-high win streak to 11 games, sinking the Milwaukee Bucks 101-83 in another memorable night at The Garden, but things were not as easy as the score might have indicated though. It took a 42-point third quarter to subdue the Bucks, who held a nine point halftime lead before Carmelo Anthony’s hot hand ignited the Knicks as a whole.
A different Knicks team emerged from the tunnel after an inspiring halftime ceremony. Brandon Jennings caught fire briefly at the beginning of the third, but going head to head with a surging Anthony was asking too much. Melo caught fire, shooting 7-9 from the field with two treys in the period as his fire spread throughout the rest of the team. New York opened the quarter up with a 25-2 run, where all the jumpers they missed in the first half started to fall. Jason Kidd capped off the barrage by banking home a three-quarter court heave, putting the exclamation point on what was by far their most potent offensive performance of the season.
A slow start offensively for both teams resulted in a combined 38 points scored in the first quarter, but the Bucks shooters would not stay down for long. It started with J.J. Redick who caught fire, making four threes and finishing the first half with 13 points in 14 minutes. The Knicks never found their rhythm and fell behind 45-36 by the time the halftime buzzer sounded. Had they not come out scorching hot in the second half, we would have seen a much different game.
Knicks Game MVP – If Melo can keep up his recent play, he’ll find himself back in the MVP conversation. For the third straight game, he dropped 40-plus points, this time 41, upping his total to 131 over that span. He made seven straight field goals in the third quarter and the team responded with the momentum swing of the season. Anthony may not have directly affected the baskets his teammates were making, but they were clearly feeding off his play.
Knicks Game LVP – Whenever the team wins, it’s hard to single someone out for poor play, but despite playing almost 20 minutes, Iman Shumpert was nowhere to be found tonight. He never got an opportunity to contribute to the offensive barrage, finishing the game 0-7 from the field, including three misses from downtown.
Turning Point – The Knicks third quarter was one for the ages. In the blink of an eye, the Knicks went from can’t buy a bucket to throwing the ball in a hoop the size of the Atlantic Ocean, dropping 42 points spurred on by a 25-2 run. Milwaukee was shell shocked and played timid for the remainder of the game. That was the type of quarter that can change a whole season around and they can legitimately ride that wave in to Oklahoma City.
Play of the Night – The Knicks already had 39 points in the third quarter and clearly took control of the game as the final seconds of it wound down, but what would cap off a performance like that better than a made desperation heave? Kidd delivered just that, banking in a 59-footer as time expired in the period, sending the Knicks back to the bench with a deafening ovation.
“Moment” of the Night – Donnie Walsh’s contributions to the Knicks current roster is enough, but we can also thank him for the recent enamor management has shown to the Knicks heritage. Tonight, the Knicks honored the 40th anniversary of the 1973 championship team in a beautiful halftime ceremony. Many fans don’t have an appreciation for the game before Magic and Bird, but this group of Hall of Famers was the last to bring home an NBA title to New York. The team featured Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, Earl Monroe, Jerry Lucas, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere, and Phil Jackson. Despite boasting his 72-10 Chicago Bulls 1996 championship ring, Phil received one of the loudest ovations.
What’s Next – On to Oklahoma City for the Knicks for a 1:00 pm tip-off with the Thunder, who just moved in to a tie with the Spurs for first place in the Western Conference. Be sure to get all of your game coverage here at TOK.