After the NY Jets shat the bed against the NY Giants on Christmas Eve, I put every ounce of hope in my NY Knicks and trusted they had what it took to avenge their dreadfully embarrassing outing against the Boston Celtics in last season’s playoffs.Â I didn’t only want the Knicks to get the W against their rivals because it would send an early message to the league.Â But, I desperately NEEDED the Knicks to win in order to reunite a household that was left divided after the Giants took it to my Jets.
My family is made up of sore losers and we have an unwritten family law that states, regardless of the final score between the Jets and Giants, if we’re all committed to having a Christmas full of good cheer, which we were, neither party would discuss the events that took place on Christmas Eve.Â With the common interest of ending the day with a Knicks win, we proceeded to gather around the TV and silently, yet collectively, pray the basketball gods would gift our family of Knicks fans with something the Knicks were unable to do in eight attempts last season, beat the Celtics.
You know what happened next.Â The Knicks, starring Carmelo Anthony (37 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists), indeed beat the Celtics 106-104.Â The Knicks were dominant in the first half, on both ends of the court.Â Melo and Amar’e Stoudemire, who quietly added 21 points, performed as expected, but the two standouts were Tyson Chandler (4 points, 3 rebounds, 6 blocks) and rookie Iman Shumpert (11 points,Â 4 rebounds, 1 assist).
For the first time, we were able to see what the much talked about, new and improved Knicks frontcourt was truly made of in a regular season game.Â Combined, they scored 65 of 106 points.Â And it was clear, adding Chandler to the mix definitely gave the Knicks a familiar look of intimidation that’s been absent since the days of Patrick Ewing.Â Seriously, when’s the last time a Knicks player had six blocks in a game?
And although Chandler doesn’t contribute much offensively, and I admit, he has to become more aggressive on the boards, his enthusiasm and leadership is invaluable.Â Not only is he a hype man, but he’s a hype man that his teammates respect.
As for the rookie, Shumpert proved early on that he may be young but he’s ready.
Since the first preseason game, he became a fan favorite as it was immediately obvious that he’s something kind of special.Â Despite shooting 3-13 against the Celtics, his fearless and aggressive style of play is exactly what Knicks fans crave.Â That’s why watching him go down in pain in the third quarter had me panic stricken as I feared that his promising rookie season may not only be in jeopardy, but most importantly, that we might be stuck with Toney Douglas running the point for the remainder of the season if Shump’s injury was serious.Â It’s not.
But what was painful, was the not so subtle reminder that the more things change, the more things stay the same.
In true Knicks fashion, they blew their lead.Â With Melo sitting out the majority of the third quarter because of foul trouble, things fell apart.Â The Celtics, mainly Rajon Rondo (31 points and 13 assists) and Ray Allen (20 points) picked up right where they left off following last year’s playoffs.Â They sucked the life out of the Knicks as they each dropped 10 points in the third.Â Their 20 points combined helped the Cs fight back from being down by 11 to up by 10.
Meanwhile, with Melo out of the game, Douglas assumed the role as the No. 1 scoring option as he shot 2-7.Â Douglas finished the day 8-19, and had the most shot attempts on the team.Â Let me say that again.
Toney Douglas led the team in shot attempts!
In what world is that ever the game plan? Could it be that Mike D’antoni isn’t preaching the same philosophy as the rest of Knicks Knation, which is for Douglas to bring up the ball and immediately dish it to Melo, who’s undoubtedly the best facilitator on the team.Â And if Melo isn’t on the floor, look for the open man but whatever Douglas does, for goodness sakes do not chuck up a three!
Although I will admit, considering the Knicks won the game, and Douglas did hit a couple of much needed timely threes, I could be going a little hard on him.Â However, my main point is that Douglas is not that dude and shouldn’t play as if he is.Â Instead, he should be comfortable playing his position as a filler until Baron Davis and Shump are available to replace Douglas and Landry Fields as starters at the 1-and-2 positions.
Yet, once Melo returned in the fourth, it was a game changer…game over.Â The offense began flowing again, and Melo dropped 17 points, which matched the complete point total of the Celtics.Â He drained a couple of three pointers, shot 7-8 from the foul line and carried the Knicks to a 1-0 record against the Celtics for the first time since 2003.
No, it wasn’t a pretty win. And no they’re not quite the Beasts of the East.Â And yes they played a Paul Pierce-less Celtics team, but so what.Â When Amar’e Stoudemire went down in the playoffs last season and the Knicks were swept, no one caveated the Knicks’ poor performance by saying oh, but Stoudemire was hurt.
Without a doubt, the Knicks still have lots of work to do, but once they resolve their point guard issues and Mike Woodson has more time to assert his defensive philosophy upon the team, the Knicks will be tough to beat.
After the final buzzer sounded and my fam and I breathed a sigh of relief, we hi-fived, talked trash, and watched the Miami Heat take it to the defending NBA Champs.Â Normalcy was restored and a Merry Knicksmas was had by all.