Knicks Continue Surge With Home Win Over Blazers

Published on: 8th December, 2009

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New York – Larry Hughes scored 21 points as the Knicks continued to turn around their bad beginning season with their third straight win, this time over the Portland Trailblazers, 93-84.

It was Hughes second consecutive 20+ point effort as he has been given most of Nate Robinson’s minutes since Robinson was removed from the rotation four games ago.

It almost felt like old times at the Garden with the sharp passing, defensive stops, and physical play the Knicks exhibited. There’s a crispness to the Knicks that seems to have occurred in conjunction with the Robinson benching but whatever the reason, they’ve now won four of their last five games and are back in the playoff picture, only two games behind the Detroit Pistons for the eight and final spot in the woeful Eastern Conference.

Even the celebrities were out again, with Chris Rock, Rihanna, and Celine Dion (yes, that Celine Dion) sitting courtside.

The whole team seems to be buying into the concept of team and sacrifice to get needed wins to put them back into the playoff conversation. They’re starting to come of age defensively, they’ve figured out how to swing the ball to the open man, and they’re hitting big shots at the right moments. From a team that looked discombulated, they are now a team that is coming together with a tighter rotation.

“Once you start playing and winning and having hope, a lot of it is psychological,” said Mike D’Antoni. “They just have a better feeling about themselves and more confidence. And as we go forward we should be able to get better as a unit, hopefully.”

The Blazers were without three of their key players, Greg Oden, their massive center who broke his kneecap during the Blazer’s last game, Rudy Fernandez, and Travis Outlaw but still presented a big challenge for the Knicks, who began this season 1-9, with Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge still in the lineup.

“We need to get wins right now and I think the whole team is taking on the attitude of whatever it takes to win,” said Jarred Jeffries. “Guys are sacrificing minutes, sacrificing shooting the ball, sacrificing their bodies and putting extra time in the gym to get this team over the hump and start playing well.”

Interestingly, D’Antoni has this team beginning to think about the defensive end. Very unusual for a D’Antoni-coached squad.

“We came out and talked,” said Jeffries. “We knew that they wanted to get to the basket. They were a team that relied on two guys…LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy to get them buckets and we didn’t want those guys to beat us.”

David Lee noticed the upgrading of the Knicks defensive effort.

“I think tonight was one of our best defensive efforts of the season,” he said. “I think our energy was the biggest thing. To make up for our lack of size, we are going to have to scramble. We’re going to need to get on every loose ball.”

“I think we’ve gotten better. We’re moving in the right direction. This team is a work in progress and it’s got to continue to get better on a game to game basis.”

Brandon Roy noticed the Knicks improved play.

“They’re playing with a lot of confidence, they shot the ball really well,” he said. “I think Gallinari shot the ball really well, he’s playing with a lot of confidence. They’re playing good basketball and we were a little thin out there but we’re going to keep it going.”

Larry Hughes said, “More ball movement, more aggressive, playing solid defense throughout the game”

“I think we’re getting into the paint a little better, allowing us to kick out to open shooters, now.”

‘We’re getting our hands on loose balls more than we did earlier in the season.”

Portland may have been playing short-handed tonight, but the Knicks were taking full advantage of it. Taking charges, scrambling for loose balls, diving for balls on the floor has all been a part of the Knicks sudden revival. Portland only played eight players tonight.

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