On This Date: The JR Smith & Steve Novak show

April 17th 2012: The JR Smith & Steve Novak show help defeat the Boston Celtics

In one of many fun games during the 2011-12 season, JR Smith & Steve Novak came off the bench to have a 3 point extravaganza. Smith & Novak combined for 50 points off the bench – and 15 combined threes – to defeat the Celtics at home 118-110 on TNT. JR & Novak formed a unconventional dynamic duo during their tenure with their penchants to hit threes.

In the 1st half, Novak hit 4 threes and JR hit all 7 of his threes in the 1st half. Both of them had an excellent two-man game where they fed each other passes to get wide open threes on the break. Most of JR’s 6 assists & Novak’s 2 assists were to each other for threes. TNT’s Kevin Harlan got into the excitement early in the 1st half with his call of the shots. One particular call was a JR Smith three where he said “he puts it in from Schenectady.” Novak also got into the fun with a 4 point play where he fell into Mike Woodson’s lap. He also brought out his signature “discount double check” celebration.

The Knicks led by 19 in the 1st half, but the game got tighter heading into the 4th quarter. Novak saved 4 of his 8 threes in the 4th quarter to help reclaim a comfortable lead. With the Knicks up 10 with less than 6 minutes left in the 4th, Novak hit a big 3 to put the Knicks up 13. In true wrestling fashion, he brought out the championship belt and Harlan proclaimed “put on the belt.” Novak was 8-10 from three for the game and didn’t miss any of his 4 threes in the 4th quarter. Those threes helped clinch the victory.

Lost in the three point shuffle was Carmelo Anthony’s triple double. Melo scored 35 points and had 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Ultimately it was the three point show that wowed Madison Square Garden on this night.

 

On This Date: Carmelo Anthony Easter Sunday Special

April 8th 2012: Carmelo Anthony scores 43 and hit the game-tying and go-ahead threes in a Easter Sunday special

Carmelo Anthony carried the Knicks on his back on Easter Sunday. He led the Knicks with 43 points and 4-5 from three to help the Knicks defeat the Chicago Bulls at home in overtime 100-99. The game was nationally televised on ABC.

With the Knicks down 91-88, Steve Novak shot a three that rolled in and out of the basket. The Knicks fouled Derrick Rose with 20 seconds remaining. Rose, however, missed both free throws and gave the Knicks the opportunity to tie the game. Instead of calling a timeout, Melo played out the possession and hit the dagger 3 over Taj Gibson in the top right corner, with less than 13 seconds remaining, to tie the game and force overtime. The Bulls missed their last 4 free throws in regulation. The MSG faithful was roaring after the Melo basket.

With the Knicks down 99-97 in overtime, Tyson Chandler gave the Knicks a 2nd chance to tie or win the game with less than 12 seconds remaining. This time, Melo hits the go-ahead 3 over Luol Deng – in the same area where he made the previous 3 – to put the Knicks up 100-99. The MSG crowd roared once again after the 3. D-Rose couldn’t make his layup attempt and the Knicks secured the victory.

With the team short-handed due to injury and continuously fighting to secure a playoff spot, this win was crucial. This game was part of an amazing 18-6 stretch once Mike Woodson became interim head coach.

On This Date: Mike D’Antoni resigns

March 14th 2012: Mike D’Antoni resigns

Mike D’Antoni resigned from the team on this date, days after the Knicks lost another close game on national TV on the road against the Chicago Bulls. D’Antoni, in the final year of his contract, was on the hotseat for most of the season. The NBA Lockout significantly reduced the amount of time D’Antoni could spend to create an offensive system and strengthen team chemistry. Because of the lockout, the team had little practice time and often had bouts of back-to-back-to-back games.

D’Antoni could never find a way to successfully mesh the trio of Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler. Melo & Amare in particular did not come into the season in great shape (due to the lockout) and D’Antoni was not able to find a way to build an offensive system that could take advantage of their strengths.

Additionally, the team lacked a point guard for most of the season. After the team amnestied Chauncey Billups, the team relied on Mike Bibby & Toney Douglas to reign in the point guard duties for the early stretch of the season. Both players struggled (for obvious reasons) and consequently led to Melo & Amare’s struggles.

Furthermore, the rise of Jeremy Lin added additional pressure on the team to mesh in the 2nd half of the season. Once Melo returned from injury, both he and Lin could not seem to complement each other and the team continued to lose games.

Most of the attention focused on the clash in styles between Carmelo Anthony & Mike D’Antoni. While neither of them had a public outburst, it seemed that there just was not enough time to successfully build proper synergy between the two of them. After the big trade in February 2011, the entire team basically flipped over and there just was not enough time to develop a system. D’Antoni had an uptempo offensive system while Melo preferred a system that favored more isolation-heavy options.

At the time of his resignation, the Knicks were 18-24 and just suffered a 6 game losing streak (their 2nd 6-game losing streak of the season). Mike Woodson took over interim duties and the team reverted more to an isolation-heavy offense with an emphasis on defense. The Knicks went 18-6 to end the season to reach the playoffs. The Heat defeated the Knicks in 5 games.


March 14th 1992: Dick McGuire’s jersey retired

Dick McGuire’s number 15 was retired for the 2nd time on this date. The Knicks previously retired the number in 1986 for Earl Monroe. McGuire spent more than 8 decades with the Knicks as a player, coach, scout, and team executive. He was responsible for discovering various draft picks, including the point guard duo of Mark Jackson and Rod Strickland.

 

On This Date: Linsanity strikes against the Mavs

February 19th 2012: Linsanity strikes against the Dallas Mavericks in MSG

In one of the final games of the magical Linsanity run, Jeremy Lin scored 28 points and dished 14 assists in a 104-97 nationally televised thriller against the Dallas Mavericks. The Knicks started off the game on a torrid run where the team scored 17 straight points in the 1st quarter. Lin scored 10 of those points as the team took a 32-20 lead. However, the Mavericks bounced back and eventually took a 12 point lead by the 3rd quarter.

The Knicks bounced back with contributions from Lin and tough pressure to cut the deficit to three by the end of the 3rd quarter. In the 4th quarter, the Knicks were able to take the lead with the help of Steve Novak. Novak scored all 14 of his points in the quarter, connecting on 4 threes. By the time Novak hit his fourth trey, the Knicks went up by 6 and he pulled out the “discount double check” in delight of the MSG faithful.

Novak’s run helped fuel Jeremy Lin through the end of the game. After Novak hit the three, Lin hit a dagger 3 over Dirk to push the lead up to 9. Dallas did cut the lead to 3 with less than a minute to go, but a couple key defensive stops resulted in transition buckets for both JR Smith and Tyson Chandler helped seal the victory.

The game marked the NBA return for JR Smith as he flew into Madison Square Garden from China. JR scored 15 points and had 3 threes despite struggling from the field. Unfortunately, this game marked the end of Linsanity as Carmelo Anthony returned shortly after and the team spiraled into a tough losing stretch.

On This Date: Knicks sign JR Smith

February 17th 2012: Knicks sign JR Smith

Desperate for some offensive firepower off the bench, the Knicks signed JR Smith using a prorated portion of the mini-mid level exception. As his contract expired after the 2010-11 season, JR spent most of the lockout period and the beginning of the season playing in China with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls. He reportedly received more than $3 million playing in China during the lockout. While in China, JR had four 50-point games including a 60 point outburst on February 1, 2012.

JR Smith obviously had ties to the city and organization in various ways. Despite being portrayed as a villain in the infamous Nuggets/Knicks brawl, JR grew up in New Jersey and played High School in Newark, NJ. JR also played with Carmelo Anthony during his stint with the Denver Nuggets. JR’s agent, Leon Rose, was also Carmelo Anthony’s agent and had a multitude of ties within the organization via CAA.

With Melo and Baron Davis still sidelined with injuries, the Knicks lacked shot creators off the bench. JR initially became one of the team’s most dangerous 3-point threats off the bench. JR initially struggled at the outset, but picked up his production near the end of the season which coincided with Mike Woodson taking over the head coaching duties. He received more minutes during the 2012 playoffs due to injuries in the guard rotation, but significantly struggled from the offensive end.

JR eventually stayed with the Knicks until midway through the 2014-15 season. JR won the 6th man of the year award after the 2012-13 season. Unfortunately, erratic shooting and on and off-court antics plagued JR’s tenure, and overall career, with the Knicks.

On This Date: Linsanity hits Toronto

February 14th 2012: Linsanity strikes in Toronto

On Valentine’s Day in 2012, Jeremy Lin gave Knicks fans more reasons to love him with a dagger three-point shot to defeat Jose Calderon and the Toronto Raptors 90-87 in the Air Canada Centre.

Lin had a double double with 27 points and 11 assists, but the most important shot was the final one that broke the hearts of Raptors fans. After Tyson Chandler grabbed an Iman Shumpert missed jumpshot, Lin received the ball for the final shot. Lin organized right around halfcourt as Calderon retreated past the three-point line expecting Lin to drive to the basket. Instead, Lin stepped ahead to hit the dagger three.

The game also marked the return of Amare Stoudemire after being away from the team due to the death of his brother. Amare was rusty in his return, but scored 21 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. Contrary to popular expectations, we never saw the Amare/Jeremy Lin battery pick-and-roll tandem come to full fruition during Linsanity. A combination of missed games, added muscle (which slowed him down considerably), and a lack of cohesion with Tyson Chandler stunted the potential pick-and-roll potential.

Ironically, Jeremy Lin recently signed with the Raptors after being bought out by Atlanta.

On This Date: Linsanity Part 3: Lin scores 38 to defeat the Lakers

February 10th 2012: Jeremy Lin scores 38 points to defeat Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers

On a Friday night nationally televised broadcast that would have originally featured Kobe Bryant against the duo of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, Linsanity stole the show once again and shocked the Lakers with a 92-85 victory. With both Melo and Amare inactive, it was Lin who scored a then-career high 38 points to lead the team.

The Knicks started the game strong, led by Lin’s 9 points and a very tenacious defensive pressure. The MSG crowd went in a frenzy after Jared Jeffries and Bill (now Henry) Walker double teamed Metta World Peace, leading to a turnover and easy layup for Lin.

The Lakers didn’t seem to have a solution to defend the pick-and-roll. Likewise, Derek Fisher had no chance attempting to guard Jeremy Lin, allowing him to score at will, go to the line 13 times, and even fall victim to a nasty spin-cycle as shown below:

Kobe Bryant scored 34 points to lead the Lakers. Before the game, Kobe mentioned that he had no clue about Lin or Linsanity. After the game, he gave Lin credit for his excellent performance. The two would re-unite on the Lakers for the 2014-15 season which proved to be quite a tumultuous time for both players and the franchise.


February 10th 2010: Carl Braun passed away

Carl Braun passed away on this date in 2010. Braun spent the bulk of his NBA career with the Knicks and was one of the top guards in the league. He made the NBA All-Star team 5 years in a row from 1953-1957. Braun was one of the Knicks’ first stars who impressed the crowds with his scoring and shooting ability. As a rookie, he scored 47 points in a game against the Providence Steamrollers. He spent his final two years with the Knicks as a player-coach before playing his final year with the Boston Celtics who won the NBA finals.

His 10,449 points ranks #5 on the All-Time Knicks record. Only Patrick Ewing, Clyde Frazier, Willis Reed, and Allan Houston scored more points for the franchise.

On This Date: Day 2 of Linsanity and KP’s devastating ACL injury

February 6th 2012: Jeremy Lin makes his first start and helps beat the Utah Jazz

Day 2 of Linsanity gives Jeremy Lin his first career NBA start on way to a 99-88 Knicks victory. Lin put up 28 points, 7-9 from the free throw line, and 8 assists. He continued to dazzle fans with his uncanny ability to drive into the paint and make acrobatic layups. Near the end of the 4th quarter, Lin hit a three at the end of the shot clock and stuck his tongue out and gave us a signature wink.

One recipient of Lin’s 8 assists was Tyson Chandler. While Chandler continued to be a defensive presence, Lin rewarded him with scoring opportunities on the pick and roll. Another recipient was Steve “Discount Double Check” Novak. Novak received several passes from Lin that led to wide open threes. Novak scored 19 points off the bench on 5-8 shooting from three. Beginning with this game, Novak continued to receive consistent minutes off the bench and served as a major three-point threat.

The most important story outside the victory was the absence of both Carmelo Anthony & Amare Stoudemire. Melo only played 5 minutes before pulling his groin. The injury sidelined him for the next 7 games, which represented the entire tenure of Linsanity. Amare was away from the team following the death of his brother in a car crash.


February 6th 2018:  Kristaps Porzingis tears his ACL.

In what nobody knew would represent Kristaps Porzingis final game in New York, the 7′ 3″ unicorn tore his ACL after landing awkwardly following a dunk on Giannis Antetokounmpo. Due to the graphic nature of the injury, we decided not to post the video. The dunk had put the Knicks ahead by a point. The injury itself put a damper on the game and the remainder of the season.

KP’s friend Willy Hernangomez witnessed the injury firsthand on the Knicks bench. The Knicks traded Willy the next day as part of a busy trade deadline that involved acquiring Emmanuel Mudiay.

The injury put the Knicks in position to refuse an extension offer to Porzingis in the offseason. Had he stayed healthy, it’s possible he would have tried to negotiate a designated rookie extension which would have allowed him to earn a higher percentage of the cap based on performance criteria.

Once it was clear he would miss most of the 2018-19 season, there was no way for him to meet any of the performance parameters that would lead to a higher salary, and therefore, the Knicks could theoretically offer him the same extension offer in 2019 as they could have in 2018. It therefore made sense for them to wait to see if he returned healthy and maintain cap space from his reduced cap hold. Whether this strategy frustrated Porzingis is yet to be fully reported. And whether the injury cast doubt on the Knicks willingness to offer him a max contract has also not yet been fully reported.

The Knicks traded Porzingis just before the one-year anniversary of the trade after he provided the front office with a 4-team list of teams where he preferred to be traded and threatened to rehab in Spain if not traded by the deadline. It appears that both sides were ready to move on, as the Knicks were considering offers for Porzingis before he officially made it clear that he wanted out of New York. Of course, it was no secret that Porzingis was unhappy, so the Knicks were not surprised by what they learned in the meeting requested by him and his brother before the trade.

On This Date: The Birth of Linsanity

February 4, 2012: Linsanity Begins

The New York Knicks, losers of 11 of their previous 13 games, needed a jolt to spark the team. The trio of Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler were not meshing, partially due to the lockout.

The team also lacked point guard production since amnestying Chauncey Billups before the season. Toney Douglas significantly struggled with starter minutes. Mike Bibby was beyond his prime. Baron Davis was still sidelined with a back injury. While rookie Iman Shumpert showed promise with his athleticism and defensive awareness, he did not have a natural feel as a point guard. With the Knicks down 20-16 to the then-putrid New Jersey Nets, coach Mike D’Antoni finally unleashed Jeremy Lin.

Due to the lack of point guard depth and Iman Shumpert’s injury in the first game of the season, the Knicks claimed Lin off waivers in December. Lin spent most of the first month of the season shuffling between the Knicks and the Erie Bayhawks of the D-League. The Knicks almost cut him near the end of January, but Baron Davis suffered a minor setback in his recovery and the Knicks just came off a bad loss against the Boston Celtics.

Lin came off the bench to play most of the 1st half against the Nets. He helped the Knicks cut a 10-point deficit down to two by halftime. He brought a new level of energy with his defense, aggressiveness attacking the paint, and passing. Players such as Landry Fields and Toney Douglas, who struggled for most of the season, felt revitalized during the game. He showed excellent chemistry with Tyson Chandler by feeding him several alley-oop passes.

Lin also played most of the 2nd half. With the Knicks down 72-70 to start the 4th, Lin continued to impress and shock the MSG faithful. He scored 12 of his 25 points in the 4th quarter and did most of his damage against Deron Williams. He attacked with pizzazz and scored a ton of difficult layups to excite the crowd.  The crowd, overall, was in awe of his performance.

Lin ended with 25 points on 10-19 from the field and 8 assists. This game forced D’Antoni to start his in the next game against the Jazz and thus began the short, but fun Linsanity era. Additionally, the game helped reenergize Madison Square Garden and helped fuel a 7 game winning streak.

On This Date: Reflecting on the history between the Knicks and Christmas Day

For me, Christmas Day has meant a few habitual traditions: watch the Christmas Day Parade, spend time with family, eat plenty of food, and watch basketball. Yes, basketball.

In recent years, the NBA schedule makers were kind enough to place the Knicks back onto the Christmas schedule. The Knicks have played on Christmas in eight of the past nine seasons.  

The Knicks have played the most Christmas Day games so far, with 52 games in the 72-year history of the NBA leading into this season. Most of the matchups were held in Madison Square Garden. The Lakers unsurprisingly are right behind the Knicks with 43 Christmas Day matchups.

The Knicks are 22-30 on Christmas Day. They have one more win than the Lakers (21-22) and have the most losses out of any team.  It doesn’t help that the Knicks lost six of the eight previous matchups.

The Knicks held the first Christmas Day game in NBA history in 1947 against the Providence Steamrollers. The game was held at 9pm and broadcasted on WCBS. Stan Lomax and Bob Edge called the game. The Knicks won the game 89-75 in the original Madison Square Garden.  Tommy Byrnes scored 20 points and Carl Braun scored 19.

The 1980s featured 2 of the most memorable Christmas games ever. Bernard King scored a then franchise-record 60 points in a 120-114 loss against the New Jersey Nets in 1984. 

In 1985, rookie Patrick Ewing helped the Knicks overcome a 25-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics in double overtime.

The NBA decided to start the 2011-12 season on Christmas Day due to the lockout. The Knicks hosted the Boston Celtics and TNT broadcasted the game. The game marked the debut of Tyson Chandler. Carmelo Anthony & Amare Stoudemire combined for 58 points and Tyson Chandler blocked 6 shots in the 106-104 victory.  

The most memorable moment came at the end when Bill (now Henry) Walker contested Kevin Garnett’s jumpshot to seal the victory. Garnett inexplicably choked Bill Walker after the buzzer. To no one’s surprise, the NBA decided not to punish Garnett for his actions.

 

On This Date: Knicks acquire Tyson Chandler in sign-and-trade

December 10, 2011:  Knicks acquire Tyson Chandler in a sign-and-trade with the Dallas Mavericks

The New York Knicks solidified their frontcourt defense by acquiring Tyson Chandler from the Dallas Mavericks in a three-team, sign-and-trade deal.  The deal was made in December, on the second day of the preseason, due to the NBA Lockout. Chandler agreed to a 4-year, $58 million contract with the Knicks.

In order to make the necessary cap space for the move, the Knicks used a one-time amnesty provision granted from the lockout on Chauncey Billups. While Chandler added a much-needed defensive presence to the Knicks, it was a curious move to amnesty Billups, only months after exercising his $14.2 million player option.

Donnie Walsh decided against buying out the point guard, who was acquired the previous February in the Carmelo Anthony trade. Walsh stepped down as general manager before the NBA lockout met a resolution. Glen Grunwald then decided to use the amnesty provision, which wasn’t available to Walsh, but could have been saved for Amare Stoudemire, on Billups.

In the transaction for Chandler, the Knicks traded Ronny Turiaf, acquired in the David Lee sign-and-trade deal, a 2013 2nd round pick, and cash considerations to the Washington Wizards. The team also traded Andy Rautins, drafted in the 2010 NBA Draft, to the Dallas Mavericks. The Knicks received the draft rights of Ahmad Nivins & Giorgos Printezis from the Mavericks. Nivins, a New Jersey native, spent his entire basketball career overseas and is currently a free agent. The Knicks still hold his draft rights. Printezis’ draft rights were later traded to the Portland Trailblazers in the Raymond Felton sign-and-trade deal. He is currently playing for Olympiacos in the Greek Basketball League.

The Knicks acquired Chandler to be the defensive cornerstone of a playoff team. Chandler came off a championship run with the Dallas Mavericks and was the anchor of the team’s defense. While the Knicks made the playoffs in the prior season, neither Chandler nor Anthony were great defenders or rebounders. Adding Chandler to the frontcourt gave Mike D’Antoni the defensive force to compete with the Miami Heat & Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference.

Chandler won the Defensive Player of the Year award in his first season with the Knicks.  He made the NBA All Star Team and NBA All-Defensive First Team in the following season.  A combination of a right knee injury suffered in a collision with Kemba Walker and an upper respiratory illness sidelined Chandler for a significant portion of the 2013-14 season and resulted in the fewest games played since the 2009-10 season.

Phil Jackson traded Chandler back to the Mavericks before the 2014 NBA Draft in his first major trade as President of Basketball Operations.  Knicks fans will always remember Tyson for his tenacious defense, alley-oop dunks, and his well-patented back-taps of offensive rebounds.