It was in with the new and out with the old last night at the World's most famous arena, as Mike D'Antoni was rewarded with a victory in his first game as head coach of the New York Knicks.
It was in with the new, as the new regime (D'Antoni and team president Donnie Walsh) saw positive returns from new players like Chris Duhon, while it was out with old, and loudly, as veterans Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry never left the bench.
Actually, if you were watching the game you heard Curry did in fact leave the bench, as he was reportedly icing his knee in the locker room during the second half. All that sitting must have really but strain on them.
Only in New York, could the team score 120 points in defeating their one time arch nemesis from Miami, yet have all the attention be around a guy who never took his warm-ups off.
It was no surprise that Curry never saw the court, as D'Antoni had announced that the big man currently was not part of the rotation the new coach was planning on implementing.
Marbury on the other hand, figured he had the back-up point guard locked up, however D'Antoni made a bold statement last night in keeping Steph sidelined, indicating that the problems of the past would not become problems of the present or future. That message was punctuated with rookie Danillo Gallinari getting some minutes despite not appearing in a single preseason game. He took two shots and missed both.
While Marbury sulked at the end of the bench, and while the crowd serenaded his coach with chants of "we want Steph" (only in New York!), there was far more to be happy with last night with the Knicks.
Sure, there was the near meltdown late in the fourth quarter, as a 23 point lead had shrunk to just six, but the team showed some fortitude, holding off the Heat and securing a 120-115 victory in front of their home faithful.
Some positives from last night which really stand out:
-Wilson Chandler can play. The kid needs to be starting in place of Quentin Richardson, who also played well, however he lacks the explosiveness of Chandler, who looked terrific scoring and rebounding (17 and 8) despite a bum knee.
-Time to stop worrying about whether or not Jamal Crawford will fit into D'Antoni's offense. Crawford looked great last night, scoring 29, and had his shot going. The only thing to worry about with Jamal is when his shot isn't, whether or not he is willing to distribute more.
-The offense itself looked sharp. 27 assists led to 48% shooting, and six players were in double figures (Crawford, Chandler, Randolph-20, Lee-15, Richardson-16, Robinson-11).
-The defense looked decent...for the first three quarters. Until a near disaster in the fourth, the Knicks looked more active defending than normally, especially on the perimeter. The interior defense remains putrid, however.
-The atmosphere at the Garden was as though a giant cloud had finally been lifted. There was no Isiah Thomas on the bench or lurking in the walkway, and the team's biggest malcontents (Marbury and Curry) did not play. The crowd was into it, the team had fun, and most importantly, they won.
It was only one game, and it was against a team that for three quarters looked as bad as they did all of last year, however the Knicks showed they're gonna be exciting to watch, whether its scoring the basketball or holding on in trying to secure victories.
Bottom line, the Knicks won a basketball game last night, and showed that the light at the end of the tunnel may be slightly brighter than originally anticipated.