Knicks Still Streaking As They Beat Bobcats

Published on: 21st December, 2009


Knicks Still Streaking As They Beat Bobcats

New York Knicks forward Danilo Gallinari, of Italy, blocks a layup by Charlotte Bobcats guard Acie Law (2) with seconds left in an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009. The Knicks won 98-94.(AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill)  | read this item

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New York – It’s never easy for the Knicks. Even when they seem to have things in hand, up seven with a 1:31 to go in the game, they had to make it more difficult than necessary with turnovers and missed free throws before they finally defeated the Charlotte Bobcats, 98-94.

Fortunately, Danilo Gallinari went from being a hero to a potential goat and back to hero again, all in the last minutes before this game became a fait accompli, the Knicks seventh win in their last 10 games. For the Knicks, that is a winning streak of gigantic proportions.

Gallinari started his hero thing with 5:06 to go in the fourth quarter, when Charlotte had crawled back from being down by eight points to pull within one. Gallo stepped behind the three point stripe and hit a clutch shot that had Knick fans in a frenzy to give his team a little breathing room at a time it looked like the Knicks were going to repeat their last quarter collapse he last time they played the Bobcats in Charlotte.

D.J. Augustine matched that three with one of his own on Charlotte’s next possession as they kept up the crunch-time pressure. Instead of folding however, Gallinari took the ball again with four minutes left and shot another 25 footer that swished cleanly through the twine, giving the Knicks a four-point lead again.

The Knicks seemed more confident shooting the ball after Gallo’s heroics as Wilson Chandler and Al Harrington sandwiched baskets around a Bobcat two-pointer to to give the Knicks a seven point lead with just 1:31 to go.

But Gallo giveth and Gallo taketh away. Seconds later, he fouled Gerald Henderson, who calmly sank two free throws to cut it to five, 94-89. Gallinari then took a quick three, a 28-footer that he missed, giving the ball back to Charlotte but they couldn’t capitalize on Gallinari’s generosity. Boris Diaw missed on a 25-footer but the Knicks, in this season of giving, threw away a pass with just 33 seconds left, the Knicks 16th turnover of the night. Raymond Felton hit a clutch three to bring the Knicks lead back down to just a measly two points with 26 seconds left.  This was turning into an entertaining barn burner.

Gallo’s up and down last minutes of the game continued. He missed one of two free throws with 19 seconds left and when Felton hit a driving layup to cut the lead to one, again, the Knicks put the ball in Gallo’s hands, knowing he is a consistent foul shooter. Instead, he missed another free throw and hit one, giving Charlotte a chance to either win it or tie it on their next possession. Gallinari was feeling his goat’s horns growing as Charlotte took the ball out.

Oddly, instead of giving the ball to their developing point guard, Felton who had scored 27 points and seemed unstoppable, Larry Brown put the ball into the hands of Acie Law, a backup guard who dribbled through the Knicks defense and went the length of the court and got to the rim, about to tie the game with four seconds on the clock. Law went up, ball outstretched in his right hand. He released it and it looked like the Knicks were about to blow another late lead when out of nowhere, Gallinari swooped over from the weakside and blocked Law’s layup. Game over. Knicks win.

“I knew he was going for a layup, and I was waiting for the right time for me to jump and I did it,” Gallinari said. “A real good play.”

After the Knicks went into halftime with a 51-45 lead, they increased their lead to 12 points with six minutes to go in the third quarter as everything was clicking for the home team. David Lee asserted himself against the much bigger and stronger Tyson Chandler by outscoring him 9 -3 and out-rebounding him 5 to 3. By quarters’ end, the Bobcats had chiseled the lead down to six as Garden fans readied themselves for one of those down to the wire games.

 They got that – in droves.

Gallinari was upset after the game, despite the win because of his free-throw shooting.

“I don’t want to miss like that,” said Gallo. “I got so mad at myself. I should not miss like that, but we won the game so I’m happy.”

Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni was happy with the win despite Gallinari’s late-game gaffes.

“He hit some big shots, some 3’s,” he said. “He just missed foul shots, uncharacteristic for Danilo. I let him shoot them all the time. He’s not usually cold. But, it all worked out.”

Wilson Chandler led the Knicks in scoring tonight, playing what was probably his best all-around game of the season. Chandler scored 26 on 9 of 17 shooting, hit all of his free throws (6 of 6), to go along with five rebounds. But it was his floor awareness and shot selection that really seem to be improving since early in the season.

“He played great tonight,” said D’Antoni. “He’s been playing super. His defense, being able to take the ball to the rim. He’s understanding when to take a 3, when not to. And he hits big shots all the time. He hit shots last year. It’s just a thing in the fourth quarter that he does. He’ll just keep getting better.” 

Notes: David Lee on the Nate Robinson situation:

“It’s really unfair,” said Lee. “Coach and Mr. Walsh decide the direction they want to go. I think everyone knows that Nate’s a good guy, he’s got a good heart and he plays very very hard out there. It happened very quickly. It went from playing to all of a sudden not playing. We continue to try to be a good teammate to him and know it’s pretty much out of our control. It is a long season, things happen. Nothing is forever, for sure. Everybody is being positive. I don’t know if our 6-3 record is a coincidence or not with Nate’s benching. When he gets in there, he plays his butt off.”

“That’s what coach wants to do. Just like Nate, I have to play the role that’s been given to me and do what I’m told. That’s what I’m doing right now,” he said. “Nate’s been my friend here for five years. Whether I wear a “Nate should play” T-shirt is not going to change their decision.”

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