Four Reasons Knicks Fans Loved Sunday’s Game
1. Blackout Averted
Thanks to the schedule maker, Knick fans suffering under Time Warner and MSG’s bickering were able to watch their favorite team on television. The Knicks-Pacers game was nationally broadcasted on ABC, giving New Yorkers who opted to stay home on a pleasant weekend day to perform spring cleaning ample entertainment.
2. Indiana Pacers
Although last week’s game was billed as Miller’s last in New York, yesterday’s game was Reggie’s final against the Knicks. While the two teams are no longer vying for Eastern Conference bragging rights, there is still some life left in the rivalry. Just having Reggie Miller on the court against the Knicks creates a little extra electricity, but don’t forget about Isiah Thomas’ relationship with Larry Bird and the Indiana Pacers. I’m sure the Knicks’ president takes a little extra interest when he faces his former club, and the man that ran him out of town.
3. Marbury 19 Assists
I cringe everytime I hear something along the lines of “Stephon Marbury’s teams lose because he’s too greedy.” After watching Marbury play for a year and a half, I just can’t buy that. Even those that track regular statistics should notice that the Knicks’ point guard is fourth in assists per game. While he’s not a “pass first, second, and third? PG in the mold of Steve Nash or John Stockton, Marbury does get his teammates involved. Under Wilkens, the Coney Island native ran the pick & roll perfectly, and he’ll hit the open man when he’s double teamed. Stephon’s deficiency is his horrendous defense, not his avarice. So what better to silence his critics then to dish out 19 on national television?
4. Knicks 113 Pacers 112 (OT)
The game itself was exciting, which is a rare occurrence for Knick fans these days. The Knicks started the fourth quarter expanding a 7 point lead into 12, before the Pacers woke up & put New York 6 points into the deficit column. The game looked lost when Marbury missed the game tying free throw in the final minute, but a defensive stop and an improbable Kurt Thomas three pointer sent the game into OT.
Short at small forward, New York played most of the game with a big lineup. The Knicks had Trevor Ariza, but used him for only 6 minutes. Instead Herb Williams decided to use three of Kurt Thomas, Malik Rose, Mike Sweetney, and Jerome Williams for a majority of the game in a zone defense. What a brilliant idea!
If Marbury?s free throw miss, the Kurt Thomas three pointer, and the big man lineup didn’t make the game intriguing enough, New York inexplicably shot better from three point land (54.5%) than the free throw line (54.2%). Both teams had the same amount of rebounds and free throw attempts. The game was so close that the last possession was literally the difference.
The icing on the cake was Sweetney’s game winner. While he didn’t have a good game early on, Big Mike came through when it counted. Not only did he win the game for the Knicks cleaning up Marbury’s miss in OT, but Sweetney’s and-1 brought New York from 6 to a manageable 3 late in the fourth. Coach Williams did something that he’s never done before: give Mike Sweetney major minutes. The young power forward (masquerading as a center) repaid his coach with a solid performance: 20 points on 8-15 shooting and 9 boards in 37 minutes. While Sweetney might be the forgotten man in Herb’s rotation, snapping a 9 game losing streak is a good way to get a little recognition.