There’s that feeling in the air of something new, and hope, which hasn’t been something the New York Knicks have been attached with this season. Phil Jackson in the stands, Carmelo Anthony on the court, and a growing winning streak, this time beating the Indiana Pacers 92-86.
To hear how Phil Jackson, a two-time NBA champion with the Knicks as a player, was received to a standing ovation tells of the state of mind Knicks fans are in. Anything promising them a sliver of hope for a championship and holding on to their only star seems like a good enough reason to be happy about. Jackson has nothing to do with the team currently on a seven game winning streak, but in a sport that has plenty of players perform based on their emotional level, maybe his presence helped out a little.
The most helpful thing was Carmelo Anthony scoring 34 points, as Paul George couldn’t find his usual defensive prowess when he’s guarding Anthony and playing the Knicks. Anthony was 12-of-23 from the field and found it very easy to overpower George on his way to the basket, finishing with 10-of-12 from the line while the Pacers’ star finished the game with five personal fouls. George did score 17 points but that was mostly thanks to his free throw shooting (8-of-8), hitting only 4-of-17 attempts from the field.
Roy Hibbert usually manhandles Tyson Chandler, but he hasn’t been playing well for quite some time. He did score 20 points, but he didn’t dominate the paint as well as he can, not having Andrew Bynum to back him up off the bench this time. Lance Stephenson scored 21 points, adding 7 rebounds and 9 assists. However, the Pacers once again looked very bad offensively and had another terrible production game from their bench, as Evan Turner and Luis Scola combined to score only 7 points.
The Knicks aren’t going through a phase or something. They’re simply playing good, smart and simple basketball, which is backed up by effort that just wasn’t there earlier in the season, and a lineup that finally clicks. Amare Stoudemire scored 21 points proving once again that using him more earlier in the season could have been quite helpful. Chandler had 14 rebounds, Raymond Felton added 11 points and the Knicks took down the best team in the East, showing that their winning streak wasn’t only about preying on the weak.
There’s a different feeling in the air, in and outside the MSG. Mike Woodson known that Jackson landing on top of him might mean the end of his job when this season is over. There are many questions surrounding the Knicks’ future. However, there’s suddenly an actual present. Out of all the doom and gloom, the Knicks remain within four games of the 8th spot in the East. The Hawks have slowed down their free fall, winning five in a row, but anything can happen in an Eastern conference with top two teams that look extremely vulnerable all of a sudden – even making the playoffs after it looked like this team had quit on its coach and itself not too long ago.