On This Date: Willis Reed scores 38 to lead the Knicks past the Lakers in Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals

April 29th 1970: Willis Reed scores 38 points to propel the Knicks past the Lakers in Overtime

Willis Reed scored 38 points from the Knicks, who overcame a 14 point halftime deficit to defeat the Lakers on the road in overtime 111-108. After trailing 56-42 in the 1st half, the Knicks, led by Dave DeBusschere & Dick Barnett, stormed back to tie the game with minutes left in regulation. The Knicks did take the lead 102-100 with 3 seconds left, but Jerry West hit a miraculous buzzer-beating half-court shot to tie the game. Unfortunately for Jerry West, the NBA did not adopt the three point line until 1979, so the shot only tied the game.

In overtime, Barnett & Reed helped clinch the victory for the Knicks. With 38 points, Reed started off the series with a scoring average of 31.3 ppg. However, his main heroics would come near the end of the NBA Finals.

 

On This Date: Knicks rout Warriors in team-wide effort

December 21, 1971: The New York Knicks rout the Golden State Warriors in an embodiment of the team-first culture

The New York Knicks routed the Golden State Warriors 113-87. All five starters scored in double figures. Walt “Clyde” Frazier led the team with 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. Bill Bradley and Dick Barnett scored 23 and 18 points respectively.

Additionally, both Jerry Lucas & Dave DeBusschere grabbed 19 and 18 rebounds respectively. The two players combined for 37 of the team’s 63 total rebounds.  Lucas had a productive season replacing Willis Reed, who was hobbled with left knee tendinitis the entire season.

In an embodiment of the team culture, the Knicks’ starting lineup combined for 22 of the team’s 26 assists. Three players (Clyde, Lucas, DeBusschere) each had 5 assists while Bradley dished 4 assists.  

On This Date: Knicks fire Stu Jackson

December 3, 1990: Knicks fire Stu Jackson and hire John Macleod as head coach

The Knicks fired Stu Jackson and hired John MacLeod to take over as head coach. Jackson was an assistant on Rick Pitino’s staff dating back to his days coaching the Providence men’s basketball team. Once Pitino left the Knicks for the University of Kentucky, the Knicks hired Stu Jackson as head coach, marking him the third youngest coach in Knicks history, at the time.1

Jackson led the Knicks to a 45-37 record in his first season and upset the Boston Celtics in the 1st round of the playoffs. The Knicks fired Jackson in the following season after his Knicks started the season 7-8, losing 5 of their last 6 games, and 3 straight games at home.

His offensive philosophy was more conservative and half court oriented, which marked a significant contrast from Pitino’s uptempo style. However, the personnel largely resembled what Pitino looked for in his system resulting in a disjointed level of play. Additionally, there was a lot of tension around the team during that season. There were reports that Stu Jackson sparred with his assistant coaches placed on the team by General Manager Al Bianchi to oversee his performance. The players, including Mark Jackson and Patrick Ewing, took issue with various things from playing time, contract situations, and even traveling up to Westchester to practice.

John MacLeod returned to the NBA after the Dallas Mavericks fired him in the previous season. MacLeod developed a relationship with Bianchi during their tenure with the Phoenix Suns. MacLeod led the Knicks to a 39-43 record and lost to the eventual NBA champion Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs.

Neither Bianchi or MacLeod lasted past the season.  The Knicks fired Bianchi in March 1991 and replaced by Dave Checketts. The team fired MacLeod after the regular season and subsequently hired Pat Riley as the new head coach. The rest is history.


December 3, 1968: Knicks beat Hawks by 33 points in Madison Square Garden

The New York Knicks handily beat the Atlanta Hawks 126-93 in Madison Square Garden. The Knicks had four players in double figures, including Dick Barnett (24 points), Walt “Clyde’ Frazier (20 points), Cazzie Russell (19 points), & Phil Jackson (15 points).

The win gave the Knicks their 11th win of the season (11-14). The team would eventually win 54 games and made the Eastern Division Semifinals under Red Holzman’s first full year as head coach of the team.

This game was the second of six matchups against the now-Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks moved to Atlanta from St. Louis beginning in the 1968-69 season. After refusing to remain in St. Louis, the team was sold to Atlanta-based real estate developer Tom Cousins and former Georgia governor Carl Sanders. Clyde Frazier grew up in Atlanta and finally got to play against his new home town team.