January 23, 1972: The New York Knicks withstand a late-game comeback against the Seattle Supersonics.
The Knicks nearly averted trouble to hold onto a 101-99 victory on the road against the Seattle Supersonics. The Knicks led by as much as 20 points by halftime and even had a 15 point lead with 4 minutes remaining in the game. The Sonics went on a 9-0 run and cut the lead down to 6 with less than 40 seconds in regulation.
A combination of Earl Monroe fouling out, an unfortunate traveling call, and a costly turnover cut the lead down to 2 and gave the Sonics an opportunity to tie the game. However, Phil Jackson and Walt Frazier made the final defensive stop to seal the victory.
Monroe led the Knicks with 27 points. Clyde nearly had a triple double with 13 points, 10 assists, and 7 rebounds. Future Knicks Spencer Haywood and Lenny Wilkens (coach) were on the Supersonics roster. Haywood was an All-Star for the Sonics for 4 seasons before the Knicks acquired him in a trade in 1975. Haywood teamed up with Bob McAdoo for slightly more than 3 seasons.
Lenny Wilkens served a unique role as player-coach of the Sonics. He was one of the last player-coaches in the NBA. He spent two separate stints as a player-coach with both the Seattle Supersonics & Portland Trailblazers from 1969-1972 and 1974-75. After Wilkens retired from his playing career in 1975, he became a full-time coach for the Blazers before rejoining the Sonics in 1977.
The game was also nationally televised on ABC. For viewing purposes, the game had to be played at 11:00AM pacific time. Up until the David Stern era, most nationally televised basketball games (and televised games in general) were viewed on tape-delay so families could watch in the evening hours on the weekend.