Okay, maybe not the most, but New Orleans undoubtedly swings nonstop to the rhythm of the blues, a seemingly bottomless flow of booze, shiny beads, the requisite, endless body of folk frantic for fun and, if you're a believer in such things, vampire nights and the Voodoo that they do.
The man in the middle of it—most frequently labeled this past offseason as option C in the great free agent stakes of 2010—was Amar'e Stoudemire (34 points, 10 rebounds and a block), who simply took no quarter, French or otherwise.
Scoring at will around the hoop has become Stoudemire's wont during this recent run, and this supremely active, mountain of wiry strength is a stud building block, the critical piece that has New York fans turning back to basketball.
If he was option C this offseason, he is quickly transforming that notion with spirited MVP-type play on both ends of the court.
Without All-Star forward David West, the Hornets got out quick last night. Up by 10 early in the first quarter, they led 26-21 heading into the second. But that (aside from progressively offensive Trevor Ariza's 21 point, nine board night), was the highlight for the home side as the Knicks rolled 79-66 over the final three periods and pretty much jogged to the finish of a 100-92 victory.
Ray Felton, another mildly regarded free agent pick up by Knick maestro (not mastermind yet) Donnie Walsh, dominated Chris Paul. Indications are New York has more than just a steady presence at the point right now.
Felton is a ball-protecting, whirling dervish who can hit shots from crazy angles and repeatedly find his teammates for open shots, as his recent spate of double doubles clearly indicates (17 points, 13 dimes and a steal last night).
Felton is a physical presence in his own right and a tough as nails defender. He's a leader and a thinker on the court, meshing superbly with Stoudemire as well as high-flyer Wilson Chandler, generally sweet shooting Danilo Gallinari (two kids with massive upsides), savvy Stanford youngster Landry Fields and a bench that keeps on shooting bullets.
Last night it was Shawne Williams (you're allowed to say who?), a former No. 1 pick out of Memphis by none other than Donnie Walsh (from his Indy days). He previously enjoyed his cannabis a little too much, but obviously was clearheaded last night as he showed a sweet stroke by scoring a critical 13 points. He slipped into the rotation while stud shot blocker Ronny Turiaf sat with what the Knicks are hoping are not chronically sore knees.
It's all adding up for New York, and the payoff is finally showing up in W's. The Knicks are 11-9 and counting, and next up is Toronto, north of the border, in a Sunday matinee.
The Knicks are taking it a game at a time. We will too.
That's it for today.