On This Date: Knicks steal Game 1 from the Bulls in the 1992 Eastern Conference Semifinals

May 5th 1992: The New York Knicks steal Game 1 from the Chicago Bulls in the 1992 Eastern Conference Semifinals

The victory snapped a 14 game losing streak against the Bulls (including the playoffs) dating back to the 1989-90 season. Patrick Ewing led the way with 34 points, 19 rebounds, 6 blocked shots, & 5 assists. Xavier McDaniel followed Ewing with 16 points and 7 rebounds.

The duo’s production was essential in matching the Bulls’ dynamic duo of Michael Jordan & Scottie Pippen. Jordan & Pippen combined for 53 points on 20-41 from the field.

With the game tied 87 all in the closing minutes of the game, Ewing took over and hit the go-ahead basket with less than 34 seconds remaining. However, a few Pippen & Jordan misses led to Knick free throws to extend the lead to 5 and to secure the victory.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing has a 31 point, 19 rebound effort to defeat the Pistons

May 3rd 1992: Patrick Ewing scores 31 points and grabs 19 rebounds to help the Knicks advance past the Detroit Pistons

In the deciding game of the 1992 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Patrick Ewing led the Knicks with 31 points and 19 rebounds to defeat the Pistons 94-87 to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. It was another tough defensive battle, where both teams shot around 40% and below from the field. The Knicks, in year 1 of the Pat Riley era, mimicked the hard-nosed Bad Boy defense trademarked by Chuck Daly’s squad.

Xavier McDaniel, in his first and only season with the Knicks, contributed heavily in Game 5 scoring 19 points on 9-17 from the field. The X-Man and Isiah Thomas got tangled up during the game and had to be separated.

As for fellow rookie Greg Anthony and the relatively inexperienced Anthony Mason, both players enjoyed their first fruits of playoff success. Both of them played an integral role in Game 5 with their defense. Mase grabbed 11 rebounds off the bench and helped prevent Detroit’s rebounding menaces (Rodman, Salley, Laimbeer) from grabbing second chance opportunities. Anthony scored 9 points off the bench and had 4 steals and 1 blocked shot in 15 minutes.

On This Date: Knicks defense stifles Clippers

March 5th 1992: The New York Knicks’ defense stifles the Los Angeles Clippers in MSG

When Pat Riley arrived in New York, his main goal was to bring the Detroit Bad Boys defensive culture to Madison Square Garden. The same style of basketball that stymied both the Chicago Bulls and Riley’s Lakers. Gone was the Showtime fast break styled offense trademarked in Los Angeles and in came a tough grind-it-out style of basketball personified by defense.

On this date, the Knicks used that newly formed defensive mantra to stop the Los Angeles Clippers 101-91. Patrick Ewing led the Knicks with a double double and had 31 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 blocks. Additionally, Mark Jackson had a double double with 18 points and 16 assists.

It was the Knicks defense in the 4th quarter that sealed the victory. The Knicks held the Clippers to only 11 points in the quarter including a scoreless stretch of 4 minutes and 27 seconds. Riley went with a 5 man unit of Ewing, Jackson, Anthony Mason, John Starks, and Kiki Vandeweghe over the remaining 8 minutes of the game. For Mark Jackson, it was equally impressive as Pat Riley often put him to the task to become a better defensive point guard.

The win marked the 4th straight game the Knicks held an opponent to under 100 points.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing scores 43 to withstand Dominique Wilkins and the Atlanta Hawks in Double Overtime

December 7, 1991:  Patrick Ewing & Dominique Wilkins face off in a head-to-head matchup, but Ewing comes out victorious in a 137-128 thriller in double OT

December 7th 1991 marked a head-to-head duel between two of the top scoring phenoms in the league: Patrick Ewing & Dominique Wilkins. Ewing dominated inside the paint with a variety of low post moves and a reliable midrange shot. Dominique dominated the game with an array of dunks, spin moves, and midrange jumpshots.

On this date, both players combined for 95 points in the Knicks double overtime thriller. Ewing scored 43 points with 14 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks on 55% shooting. Dominique scored 52 points shooting 57% from the field and 16-18 from the free throw stripe.

Additionally, Dominique’s younger brother Gerald Wilkins scored 26 points on 11-18 from the field to complement Ewing. Despite scoring exactly 1/2 the amount of points, the younger Wilkins came out victorious.

Unlike previous seasons, the Knicks showed an ability to persevere and mount timely comebacks. The team was down by 10 with 5 1/2 minutes left in the 4th quarter and were able to tie the game and send it to overtime.  The victory was equally impressive as it came off the 2nd game in a road back-to-back, of which the team lost the first game 103-92 to the Boston Celtics.

The victory put the Knicks at a record of 11-6.  The game was also their 3rd comeback victory of the season.

On This Date: Ewing scores in double figures for the 214th consecutive game

November 12, 1991: Ewing hits double figures in points for the 214th consecutive game

Patrick Ewing scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 98-96 win on the road against the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets. The game marked the 214th straight game (a Knick record) Ewing scored in double figures. The streak was ultimately broken the next game when Ewing was held to only 6 points.

The streak began on January 16, 1989 and covered almost 2.5 seasons. The streak represented Ewing’s consistency and is one of the reasons he will forever be one of the greatest Knicks. From the 1987-1988 season (age 25 season) through the 1996-1997 season (age 34 season), Ewing only missed 22 games and averaged 20 points per game each season.

The streak is more impressive in that the 2nd longest streak in team history is held by Walt “Clyde” Frazier at 124 games. Carmelo Anthony had 109 straight games of double figure points and Ewing had another streak of 106 straight games.

Due to free agency and the unpredictability of injuries in today’s NBA, I don’t know if any other Knick player will ever come close to breaking Ewing’s record.

On This Date: Pat Riley wins his first game as Knicks head coach and KCD make their debut

November 5th 1991: Pat Riley wins his first game as Knicks head coach and Knicks City Dancers make their debut.

The Knicks won their first game of the season, fittingly, at Madison Square Garden by routing the Milwaukee Bucks 113-85. This game marked the first win of the Pat Riley era after being blown out for the first two games of the season. Newly acquired Xavier McDaniel led the team with 28 points and 13 rebounds. Mark Jackson led the team with 9 assists and scored 16 points. Patrick Ewing scored 24 points and blocked 3 shots in 34 minutes.   

After ending the 1st half only up by 1, the Knicks went on a 40-13 run in the 3rd quarter to blow the game open. Mark Jackson assisted in the run with three steals during the run that led to transition layups for the Knicks. The win broke a 6 game losing streak against the Bucks.

The game encompassed the the evolution of Pat Riley’s coaching philosophy. While his Los Angeles Lakers’ embodied the fast-paced Showtime era during the 1980s, Riley instituted a philosophy built around tenacious Ewing.  For Riley, having Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, & Xavier McDaniels man the frontcourt helped quickly foster the identity on the floor.

The game also marked the debut of the Knicks City Dancers (KCD). The KCD was formed due to the efforts of Pamela Harris, who joined the Knicks as director of marketing in 1991 under then-president Dave Checketts. Harris was part of a team with Checketts that coincided with the MSG renovations in the summer of 1991. Harris considered the KCD as a way to improve entertainment for fans, allow better connection between the fans and organization, and also provide additional revenue streams for the team.

The KCD debuted at Madison Square Garden during the game. The KCD eventually became a more tamer, but equally prominent equivalent of the Laker Girls and has been a success for the organization since inception. Harris’ team were also behind creative various new events with the Knicks, but was equally responsible for overseeing the creation of the “Go NY Go NY Go” theme song of the 1993-94 season.