Tuesday’s victory over Denver was one the bright moments for Knick fans this year. Against one of the league’s best teams, New York kept it close for most of the game. They broke open a third quarter lead only to relinquish it in the fourth. But down the final stretch the Knicks held on to the lead for the victory. They even had a few calls go their way, including a David Lee charge that would have been his sixth foul, but was surprisingly reversed. And their most promising young player, Danilo Gallinari, held his own against one of the league’s premiere forwards. Gallo scored 28 points on 19 shots, and was eager to defend against Carmelo Anthony.
But what made this win even more enjoyable was that it was done on the backs of the Knicks fledglings. In the Denver game, more than half of the total minutes (129 of 240) went to players under the age of 25. The cliche is that fans don’t want to see their team rebuild, or even more strongly that you can’t rebuild in New York. However if rebuilding is what we’ve seen over the last few games, then what’s not to like?
Over the last 9 games, the Knick youngsters of Toney Douglas, Danilo Gallinari, Bill Walker, and J.R. Giddens has been given more playing time by D’Antoni. Douglas has hit 22 minutes in all those games, and started in the last 6. Gallo’s role has expanded and he’s played in 40+ minutes in 5 of those 9 games. Walker started in 4 games, while his ex-Boston teammate J.R. Giddens has played in all 4 games since coming back from injury. Three big questions from the preseason was: A. Could Gallo survive playing a big dosage of minutes? B. Could Toney Douglas become an NBA caliber rotation player? C. Could the Knicks find inexpensive talent for next year? From the results of the last 3 weeks, the answer seems to be yes on all accounts.
The Knicks have been winning during this rebuilding phase, as New York in 5-4 in this stretch. Having their young and inexperienced players do well with extended playing time gives Knick fans hope that these guys can form a solid supporting cast around whoever the team grabs in free agency this year. Winning is just the icing on the cake.