The Knicks Have Had A Lot to Celebrate This Season
Well, with the season winding down, it's been the Knicks who've had the last laugh. Their magic number to clinch the division stands at one, meaning either a Knicks win or a Brooklyn Nets loss in the next six games closes out the race.
We look back at some of the key events that have helped shaped this Knicks season.
Novak doing the Discount Double Check
The asterisk in the title denotes the Knicks' first game against Miami Heat, which was originally scheduled as the second game of the season. Unfortunately, due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, the Knicks season opener with the Brooklyn Nets was cancelled.
In a tough time for the tri-state area, the Knicks gave their fans a lot to cheer about against the defending champs. The Knicks had six double-digit scorers and shot a blistering 19-of-36 from behind the arc.
It's tough to say what was more impressive—the Knicks putting up 104 points on one of the best defenses in the league or New York holding one of the league's top offenses to 84 points.
The Knicks would start the season off with a bang, winning their first six games—the first five of which were by double figures.
Many Knicks fans were sad to see the end of Linsanity's run in New York when the point guard signed with the Houston Rockets in the offseason.
On Nov. 23, 2012, the Knicks played against Lin for the first time...and were humbly embarrassed. While Lin wasn't dominant (13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists), the Knicks were incredibly flat in a 131-103 loss.
It was the worst defensive effort of the season and the second-worst loss.
The long-talked about exodus to Brooklyn finally happened for the Nets, and they made sure to bring their best effort in a 96-89 overtime victory.
For the Knicks, the game was a lost opportunity, as Carmelo Anthony missed a 3-pointer with five seconds left in regulation to win the game. The Nets carried the energy of their fans into overtime, where they thoroughly outplayed the Knicks.
At the time, the Nets improved to 9-4, taking over the division lead from the Knicks for the first time all season.
No Melo, no problem.
A constant issue for Carmelo Anthony-lead teams throughout his career has been his isolation style neglects other teammates. With Melo out, the Knicks were able to put together a great team effort in a 112-92 effort.
The defense was outstanding, as they held Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to a combined 25 points on 6-of-25 shooting.
The Heat, who usually force 14.8 turnovers per game, forced only seven against the Knicks. New York, meanwhile, used a familiar formula to beat the Heat: shooting threes all night long. Eighteen triples later, the Knicks waltzed out of Miami, making a major statement.
When the Knicks signed Tyson Chandler during the 2011 offseason, the belief was that the trio of Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler would rival the Heat's Big Three of James, Wade, and Bosh.
On New Year's Day, for the first time all season, the Knicks had their three stars on the court at the same time. Unfortunately, the Portland Trailblazers had other thoughts about Stoudemire's season debut, spoiling the occasion by defeating the Knicks 105-100.
It was a rather uneventful night for STAT, who shot 3-of-8 and scored six points while grabbing only one rebound in just under 17 minutes. He did so coming off the bench, something that he would do throughout the season.
Kevin Garnett isn't exactly the world's friendliest player (I know from personal experience). His trash talk on the court is legendary, and late in the Knicks 102-96 loss to the Boston Celtics, he was able to get under the skin of Carmelo Anthony, with the now infamous "Honey Nut Cheerios" comment.
It was obvious that Garnett got into Anthony's head. It was a night to forget for Anthony, who shot an abysmal 6-of-26 from the field and grabbed only three rebounds in 37 minutes of play.
To make matters worse, Anthony went to confront Garnett at the Celtics team bus after the game, earning him a one-game suspension from the NBA.
The suspension took place during a Knicks' road game against Indiana, a matchup in which the Knicks lost by five.
After missing the first two-and-a-half months recovering from an ACL tear he suffered during last year's playoffs, Iman Shumpert made his return in the Knicks 102-87 romp over the Detroit Pistons.
Known more for his defensive tenacity rather than his offensive prowess, Shumpert has looked a step slower since his return; he's been unable to get to that extra level that Knicks fans witnessed last year.
Offensively, his confidence is shot, as he's shooting an ugly 37.5 percent from the field and averaging only 5.9 points, and 2.7 rebounds per game.
Despite his struggles, Shumpert's defense will be an important factor in the playoffs, especially in a potential playoff showdown with the Heat, where he'll likely draw Dwayne Wade.
In the Knicks most lopsided win of the season, a 120-81 blowout of the Sacramento Kings, the team and its fans finally got to see what a healthy Amar'e Stoudemire could do.
In just under 21 minutes of play, STAT shot a perfect 10-of-10 from the field, scoring 21 points and pulling down six rebounds. He looked quick and athletic and made smart decisions all night.
This game can be viewed in two lights, depending on what type of Knicks fan you are:
Optimistic: The Knicks entered the game losers of five of its last seven but were able to hold on to a win against the Golden State Warriors, one of the West's top teams in a 109-105 triumph. The Knicks dominated the boards, forced 17 turnovers and got to the free-throw line again and again.
Pessimistic: We were one pick away from THAT GUY! In 2008, the Knicks were a pick away from snagging Stephen Curry in the NBA draft, only to see the Warriors pick the combo guard despite already having Monta Ellis on their roster. The Knicks took Jordan Hill, who lasted 24 games before being traded to the Houston Rockets.
On Feb. 27, Curry went for 54 points, seven assists, and six rebounds, shooting an incredible 11-of-13 from behind the arc.
The Knicks were looking for their third straight win over the Heat, and with a 14-point lead at halftime, they seemed in control.
But like the Heat have done against teams all year, they made a furious comeback, led by LeBron James, blowing out the Knicks in the second half and escaping the Garden with a 99-93 victory.
It was the Heat's 14th win in a row, and it was clear that the Heat had officially supplanted the Knicks atop the Eastern Conference power rankings.
Amar'e Stoudemire missed the entire road trip (and has missed every game since) with a knee injury, and Carmelo missed games against Portland and the Clippers.
He played games against Golden State and Denver, despite being obviously injured. Head coach Mike Woodson came under some heat for playing a banged-up Anthony so many minutes.
It was the Knicks second four-game losing streak in a little over a month. But it represented the last low point thus far in their season.
After four losses left the Knicks battered and beaten, Mike Woodson made the decision to insert Pablo Prigioni into the starting lineup. Since then, the Knicks haven't lost, winners of 12 straight.
While Prigioni doesn't stuff the stat sheet, he is an incredibly selfless guard, who promotes ball movement on offense and physicality on defense.
It's tough to judge Prigioni's effectiveness without actually watching the games, but with him in the starting lineup, the Knicks are a much stronger team.
With the Knicks going for their fifth straight win, J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony controlled the show, combining for 61 points in the Knicks 100-85 victory.
This would serve as the dagger for the Celtics faint division championship hopes and give the Knicks some confidence should the run into the C's during the playoffs.
In what may be the most impressive win of the season, the Knicks went into Oklahoma City and put their 11-game winning streak on the line.
Behind the hot shooting of Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, the inside presence of Tyson Chandler, and the all-around game of Jason Kidd, the Knicks outplayed the reigning Western Conference champions in a 125-120 win.
Anthony was most impressive in the victory, pouring in 36 points by driving to the hoop and being aggressive on the boards. Over his past four games, Melo has scored 167 points, the most of any player in a four-game period this season. For his efforts, he was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week.
If the Knicks play like they did against Oklahoma City—aggressive, hungry, gritty and team-oriented—the sky is the limit.