Attention basketball fans: the New York Knicks are relevant again. There is some meaningful basketball going on in the great city of New York. In the later part of the last decade, New York basketball has most commonly been linked to 1) the New Jersey Nets potential move from their longtime home in East Rutherford to Brooklyn and 2) the speculation and thus consequential failure to land LeBron James in The Decision of 2010.
But tonight, the New York Knicks proved why basketball in the city was again relevant-all while losing the game in the end. The Garden was louder than it's been in nearly a ten years with its echoing chants of "Defense! Defense!" on one end of the court rotating with repetitious yells for "MVP!" as Amare Stoudemire poured in one of his season-high 39 points. But even those buckets, including a 3-pointer that was about two-tenths of a second too late could save the Knicks from suffering their first loss in nine games: Boston 118, New York 116.
The Celtics' Paul Pierce drilled home a 14-foot jumper with four-tenths of a second left on the clock to give Boston their third lead since it was 7-5 in the first quarter.
Win or lose, basketball is again relevant in New York. Mike D'Antoni's up-and-down, high-octane offense is the perfect fit for point guard Ray Felton, an offseason free agent acquisition from Charlotte. At the time, the fifth year guard from North Carolina, was seen as a declining prospect, easily replaceable by the Bobcats organization; his signing slid under the radar with a glut of talented stars on the market. Through tonight's game, Felton was averaging 18 points, 9 assists and over 2 steals per game- all career-bests. One of Felton's most common recipients on the offensive end has led to Amare Stoudemire's explosion.
Stoudemire is rewriting the Knicks record books with his 9th straight 30-point game and is the Knicks best big man since Patrick Ewing donned the Knickerbockers' white, orange and blue over a decade ago. Against Boston, he came out in attack-mode, scoring the Knicks' first 7 points and 11 of their first 16. In his recent surge, the 8-year veteran is averaging 34.4 points and nearly 11 boards per game. More importantly than just scoring the basketball, Stoudemire has been a savoir to Knicks fans, leading to the resurgence of the New York Knicks, sporting a 16-10 record and taking the defending Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics down the wire. With Stoudemire, Felton and the rest of the Knicks roster firing on all cylinders right now, New York is well on their way to their first winning season since 2000-01.