It may have taken overtime, the absence of the opponent’s starting point guard and favorable home cookin’ calls by refs to go with an entree of all-out hustle, but the Knicks finally ended their losing streak at six with a dramatic win over the Magic in the Garden. Led by Carmelo Anthony, who said this was an “almost must-win” , the Knicks kept this game close and survived a late Magic comeback in the final moments of regulation.
The key to winning this game was the missing element in the previous six: persistent hustle on the defensive end by the entire team. Without Carmelo’s energetic output (39 points and 10 rebounds) on both ends of the floor, the Knicks would not have been in this game. The extra hustle was evident as he was active on the glass and aggressively defending his man one-on-one. Sometimes he was overly aggressive, like when he almost got caught tripping Jason Richardson in overtime of a tight game. Instead, it was JR who got caught retaliating against Carmelo nullifying a tre by Hedo.
Mike D’Antoni finally got the memo that advised him to put a big body on Dwight Howard. Sheldon Williams played Howard (29 points and 18 boards) magnificently. He used all six fouls to hound and harass the big man who was shut down by the Knicks’ double teams in the first half. Howard adjusted in the second half by moving around in the paint to make it more difficult to keep him from establishing position, but he was forced ot hit 11 foul shots overall to score 29. The Knicks were instructed to foul Howard prior to the game and not let him feel comfortable in the paint. Mission accomplished.
The Magic were without their point guard, Jameer Nelson, Quentin Richardson and JJ Reddick. More to the Knicks liking, the Magic played Gilbert Arenas, who did not hit s field goal until late in the fourth, at point. Gilbert looked as bad on the break as Jared Jeffries can look under the basket. He blew a couple of fast breaks including a three on one by turning over the ball. Gilbert, like the refs, was a Knick blessing.
The LBE was as lively and energetic as the game: in the house were Peaceman, O&B, Lives, Prince, DLT, JerseyLucas, JMattHicks, Statesman and BARF. Line of the night by Peaceman summed up the experience: "NIGHT ALL THANKS FOR THE MELO-SHIP."