That Old-Time Buzz Is Starting At MSG As Knicks Win Again

Published on: 9th December, 2010


That Old-Time Buzz Is Starting At MSG As Knicks Win Again

Knicks Raymond Felton. New York Knicks vs Toronto Raptors. Original Filename: _HS95155.JPG  | read this item

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New York – As the song goes, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…..but for Knicks fans, in a city starving for a basketball team it can be proud of, it’s also beginning to feel a lot like something more magical than that.

That buzz you’re hearing in and around New York City is the sound of basketball fans,  in hiding for the better part of a decade, beginning to come out of their shell, little by little, as these Knicks begin to build hope that something interesting and exciting is happening.

The Knicks are the hottest team in the NBA. Who ever thought, before this season started that a statement like that could be made about this Knicks team? No one, that’s who.

Let’s get the important numbers out of the way after tonight’s Knicks win over the Toronto Raptors tonight, 113-110. The victory improved their record to 14-9 on the season. It was their sixth straight win and their 11th win in their last 12 games, marking the first time they have done so since the 1994-95 season when they went on a 14 out of 15 run. The 14-9 record marks the franchise’s best start to a season since 2000-01 when they also started 14-9.

But, you’re right, numbers aren’t everything and they rarely tell the whole story. So, here’s what’s really going down at the old building on 33rd street and 7th Avenue.

The energy inside of Madison Square Garden is beginning to percolate in ways that only old-timers can recall. During the Patrick Ewing years, from 1985 to 1999, there was always a palpable electricity in the building –  before, during, and after the games. There was a prevailing feeling something great could happen in any game, at any time. It made tickets to a Knicks game the hottest commodity in town.

Then, those days ended and over the course of the past decade, there were whispers the Knicks organiztion had resorted to piping-in artificial cheering at various parts of games to give the arena greater volume in support of mostly mediocre, boring, unlikeable teams. It has been a miserable ten years for fans of this team, made worse when the big LeBron James buildup turned into false expectations.

As the wins are beginning to pile up for this Knicks team, the crowd noise no longer seems enhanced. The buzz is definitely back in the building.

When Raymond Felton’s tiebreaking 3-pointer bounced on the rim five times and finally went in with 2.7 seconds left, it gave the Knicks their win but it also gave Knicks fans continuing reasons to believe this season, after a decade of scintillatingly terrible basketball, is going to be different.  The crescendo of noise when the ball finally fell through the net sounded eerily like 1999, again.

“It was bouncing,” Felton added, “and I was praying, praying, praying. ‘Please go in.”

Amare Stoudemire extended his 30-point streak to six games in sensational fashion, scoring 18 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter and grabbing 14 rebounds. His jumper gave New York a 110-107 lead with 57 seconds remaining and sparked “MVP!” chants at Madison Square Garden. The last time anyone heard those cheers around here were……..never.

Mike D’Antoni is still a coach who makes jokes about playing defense in his post-game press conferences. He still is a coach who doesn’t think timeouts are necessary because they give the other team a chance to set up their defense against his classic pick and roll offensive sets. But, D’Antoni has always been good at developing an entertaining style of high-scoring basketball capable of winning 50 games during NBA regular seasons if faltering in more defense-oriented playoff basketball.

In Stoudemire and Felton, the Knicks now have what is arguably the best one-two combination in the league. Both players are leaders on and off the court and both are playing their respective positions at the highest possible level. In Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, and rookie Landry Fields, the Knicks have a supporting cast that is both athletic and capable of hitting long jump shots to space the defense away from where Stoudemire and Felton can do most of their pick and roll damage in the lane.

More numbers?

With tonight’s win, the Knicks are five games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2000-01 season.

Stoudemire scored 34 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to post his sixth consecutive 30-point effort. He becomes only the second Knick in franchise history to accomplish that feat and is one shy of tying the franchise record of seven set by Willie Naulls in 1962. Stoudemire also posted his sixth 30-10 effort of the season. He had a total of eight, all of last season.

Felton recorded 28 points and 11 assists for his 10th double double of the season. 

To have two All-Star-type players with the chemistry these two have developed after 23 games, is to have a very happy circumstance for this franchise.

“They are both terrific,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said after the win. “Whatever you want to talk about, they have done it.”

On Stoudemire:

“He puts it on the floor, he shoots, he makes foul shots,” continued D’Antoni. “Amar’e just didn’t miss. He was just awesome.” 

On Felton:

“I just knew from relationships and people that knew the guy has a big heart and he’s a winner so that is what we went with,” said D’Antoni. “He had to grind it out when we were 3-8. People, realists were coming down on us…literally. Felton just wasn’t stopping. He kept going.”

Though the Knicks are playing their winningest basketball in nearly a decade, their success has been somewhat dismissed because it has come against some weak opposition, including a 116-99 victory in Toronto on Sunday.

But the Knicks won’t apologize for their schedule, especially since it’s about to turn tougher. Following Friday’s game at Washington, they return home for Denver, Boston and Miami over their next three games.

It will be a test of how this Knicks team truly measures up to the league’s elite teams but one thing is becoming certain. Knicks fans have begun to crawl out of whatever holes they’ve lived in for the past decade and they now believe they have a basketball franchise they can talk about at the water cooler, again. Just not too loudly, yet.

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