Sunday, April 8, 2012
On March 12, the New York Knicks suffered a 5-point loss at the hands of the East leading Chicago Bulls. Two teams heading in seemingly separate directions.The Bulls (35-9) pursuing a #1 overall seed in the playoffs and the Knicks (18-24) fading fast, losers of 6 straight games. Linsanity had come and gone. Mike D’Antoni was gone two days later and left Mike Woodsen with the framework of a much desired revival that never seemed to get off the ground. Questions swirling, is Carmelo as good as we think he is? Is Amare still a dominant inside threat? Are these additional parts overrated (JR Smith, Jeremy Lin, Iman Shumpert, Tyson Chandler) worth the price? And the biggest one of all, can this team defend? All the sudden, the 8 seed in the East and an early round exit would seem to suffice for the Knicks. But something changed, and the Knicks won 5 games in a row. In only one of those games, New York allowed more than 100 points. It was 9 days later that interim head coach Mike Woodsen would get his first taste of losing as an NBA coach. And following that loss, the Knicks ripped off 3 more wins. Two of them minus Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin. How were they doing it without two of their “Big Three”? Is it possible? Did Mike Woodsen tell his team they can stop other teams from scoring? That is one theory, or you have the other one, Carmelo Anthony is taking advantage of his counterparts absences and re-asserting himself as a dominant force. Maybe it’s a combination of the two. It appeared to be the case today in New York.
The Knicks (28-27) have been tearing it up as of late, but need that signature win. Chicago rolls in on Sunday for a nationally televised game. At (43-14), the Bulls are in terrific position. Derrick Rose coming back for the game in New York is another extra boost. The Bulls did not show up ready to play, and the Knicks took advantage. At one point, they held a 21 point advantage on Chicago. But the pesky Bulls bared down, and began to grind it out. They dug into the Knicks lead and by the fourth quarter possessed a lead of their own. Derrick Rose was taking control. But in the closing seconds, they could not make their free throws and left the Knicks with a three point deficit. Carmelo got the ball and hit a deep three to tie the game up and sent it into overtime. MSG had not been so alive since Linsanity. But during overtime, Derrick Rose began hitting big shot after big shot. The Knicks were down two and after many hectic shots and tip backs they had the ball with about 15 seconds left. Carmelo took the ball up top and went to work on Luol Deng. With 8 seconds left, he rose up and nailed a three over top of Deng to give himself 43 points on the day and his team a 1 point advantage, which they held onto with terrific defense in containing Derick Rose, forcing a fall away runner as time expired. The New York Knicks had won an absolute dogfight against the best team in the conference. The days hero was no doubt Carmelo. He simply willed his team to victory and has set a tone for the rest of the season. This Knicks team is highly motivated and is lead by the hottest player in the NBA right now. New York will be facing either Chicago or Miami in their potential first round playoff matchup, however if you expect this Knicks team to roll over, you will receive a surprise from Carmelo Anthony and HIS Knicks team.-Josh Neighbors