Every now and then there comes a basketball game that electrifies an entire city. Fans are glued to their television to see the greatest players in the world. Unfortunately, Madison Square Garden has been in the shadows for the past few years. For the last decade or so, the most anticipated Knick games of the season were ones that featured the league’s upper echelon teams. The only reason why the Heat vs. Knicks or Cavs vs. Knicks games were on national television were because the league’s best players traveled to the Mecca of Basketball. The match-ups weren’t necessarily amazing nor were the games always competitive. It was just a chance to watch the LeBrons and Wades of the NBA perform under the lights of New York City.
While the Knicks were a sub-.500 team last year, this year’s team is bound for the playoffs. Coming into tonight’s game the Knicks were the sixth seed in the East with a record of 23-21. Unlike the previous seasons, this Heat-Knicks matchup was significant because the Knicks are a relevant team in the NBA again. And the result of yesterday’s game confirmed it.
The Knicks beat Miami 93-88, in a tightly fought contest. New York got off to a good start in the first quarter, and matched the Heat’s intensity. In the second quarter, the game got feisty as Juwan Howard and Amar’e Stoudemire got into an altercation. Ultimately Howard was whistled for a technical foul, and the fight brought back memories of the Knicks-Heat rivalry of the early 2000s.
The halftime ended with the Knicks trailing 48-46. New York’s leading scorer was Amar’e Stoudemire with 14 points on nine shots. Landry Fields contributed with 11 points, five rebounds, and three assists. The Knicks had to feel lucky going into the locker-room trailing by only two points, because they shot 18-45 from the field and only attempted eight free-throws. In addition, Raymond Felton had a less than impressive first half, with two points and +/- of -6.
The last time the Heat played the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, Miami completely dominated in the third quarter. In their previous meeting the Knicks were stagnant on the offensive end, and trailed by double-digits by the end of the third. This game appeared to be a replica of the last, as New York failed to have any offensive continuity. The Knicks missed seven of eight three point shots in the quarter, most of them were of the wide open variety.
But instead of yielding to a great team, New York clawed back in the fourth quarter. Unlike the period prior, New York began to hit their threes. With the Knicks trailing 84-83 and less than two minutes to go, Danilo Gallinari and Landry Fields hit back to back treys giving New York a 5 point advantage that would sustain them for the rest of the game. The Knicks outscored the Heat 29-15 in the quarter. Amar’e ended with 24 points on 17 attempts, and the Knicks also got efficient scoring from Gallo (20 points on 15 shots) and Landry Fields (19 on 11 shots). Fields also added 13 rebounds and 6 assists, and finished +14.
The Knick crowd was electric with a playoff-like atmosphere. For once a game at the Garden against one of the league’s best team’s was great television. And this time it wasn’t due to the star power of the opposing team.