On This Date: Ewing & Sprewell help the Knicks finish the Heat in Game 7

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May 21st 2000: Latrell Sprewell & Patrick Ewing help the New York Knicks close out the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Semifinals

The Knicks & Heat faced off against each other in a rematch of the previous year battle. Similar to 1999, both teams fought until the final deciding game where the Knicks once again defeated the Heat on the road in a close matchup. This was the 3rd time in the previous 4 seasons where the Knicks defeated the Heat in Miami.

Patrick Ewing & Latrell Sprewell scored a combined 44 points to help defeat the Heat 83-82. Ewing had a double double with 20 points and 10 rebounds on 5-10 from the field and 10-12 from the free throw line. Spree led the Knicks with 24 points, scoring 20 in the 1st half, and 5 assists. The duo helped withstand Alonzo Mourning’s 29 points, 13 rebounds, & 5 blocked shots.

Game 7, like the entire series, had a seesaw feeling to it. The Heat ended the 1st quarter up 9, but the Knicks stormed back to take a 6 point lead by halftime. The Heat eventually tied the game by the end of the 3rd and showed signs of extending the lead early on the 4th. Chris Childs turned out to be an X-Factor for the Knicks in Game 7 scoring 15 points, including the first 10 Knicks points in the 4th quarter, to keep the team in the game.

Ewing had one of the most pivotal plays with less than 1:30 left in the game. Down 1, Ewing received the ball in the post as Mourning gambled to steal the ball from him. Ewing deftly turned around for the go-ahead dunk that put the Knicks up 83-82. Those were the final points scored in the game.

On This Date: Knicks hire Hubie Brown as head coach

May 20th 1982: Knicks hire Hubie Brown as head coach

Less than a week after Red Holzman announced his retirement, the Knicks hired Hubie Brown as the new head coach. Before gracing the NBA airwaves with his commentary and basketball tutorial videos, Hubie spent more than 4 seasons coaching the Knicks.

Hubie enjoyed decent success early on taking the Knicks to the semifinals in his first 2 seasons with the team. However, debilitating injuries to both Bill Cartwright (foot) and Bernard King (knee) put the Knicks on a downward spiral for the rest of his tenure. Patrick Ewing also missed 32 games during his rookie campaign due to various injuries, including his knee. Essentially Hubie never had a full squad after the 1983-84 campaign.

Additionally, his high intensity and rigid approach to coaching eventually wore off on the team. His insistence for 10 man rotations and a peculiar decision to play Ewing at power forward alongside Cartwright marked a disappointing end to his Knicks tenure. After the Knicks fired Hubie in 1986, he didn’t return to coaching until 2002 with the Memphis Grizzlies.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing’s Game Winner against the Pacers saves the Knicks season

May 17th 1995: Patrick Ewing’s game-winner against the Indiana Pacers in Game 5

With the Knicks down 3-1 in the playoff series and on the brink of a potentially disappointing upset, Patrick Ewing saved the Knicks season with a running 7 foot basket with 1.8 seconds remaining to defeat the Indiana Pacers 96-95. The victory put the Knicks down 3-2 heading to Indiana for Game 6.

After losing home court advantage in Game 1 due to Reggie Miller’s heroics, the Knicks won Game 2, but lost the next 2 games in Indiana. Entering Game 5 down 3-1, there was plenty of pressure for the Knicks to win the final 3 games.

After Game 5, the Knicks did win Game 6 in Indiana, but was not able to close out the series in Game 7 at home. The loss ultimately resulted in Pat Riley’s abrupt resignation.

On This Date: Allan Houston’s Game Winner shocks the Heat and the NBA

May 16th 1999: Allan Houston hits the game-winning basket to upset the #1 seed Miami Heat and shock the NBA

Allan Houston made his mark in Knicks history with the game-winning basket with less than 5 seconds remaining to sink the Miami Heat 78-77. The Knicks became the 2nd #8 seed to upset the #1 seed in NBA history.1

The original play did not involve Houston hitting the game-winning basket. Latrell Sprewell originally had the ball in isolation, expecting to hit the game-winner. However, Spree nearly turned the ball over and the Knicks consequently reset possession with less than 5 seconds remaining. Charlie Ward fed Houston behind the three point arc. Houston then threw up a running floater that bounced off the front rim, then hit the back rim, and went in to put the Knicks ahead by 1 with 0.8 seconds.

The most iconic moment was Houston running to the other side of the floor pumping his fists in celebration with his teammates. The Heat crowd, teammates, and coaching staff were all left in shock after that basket. The Heat got one final opportunity to win the game, but Terry Porter missed the 35 foot heave and the Knicks clinched the ultimate playoff upset.

The Knicks were the underdogs throughout the entire regular season. The combo of a relatively new roster, shortened season, and an aging Patrick Ewing led to significant growing pains. There was a significant risk that the Knicks would miss the NBA playoffs for the first time since 1987. Additionally, there were rumblings regarding Jeff Van Gundy’s job security due to disagreements between him and Ernie Grunfeld. This victory calmed a lot of nerves within the Madison Square Garden faithful. For Van Gundy, this victory most likely helped secure his job with the organization.

On This Date: Knicks/Heat Fight Round 1: Charlie Ward & PJ Brown

May 14th 1997: Knicks/Heat Fight Round 1: Charlie Ward vs. PJ Brown

In the waning moments of a disappointing Game 5 loss against the Miami Heat, Charlie Ward & PJ Brown got into a nasty fight after trying to gain position for a rebound on the free throw line. After Tim Hardaway Sr hit the free throw, Ward rammed into PJ Brown trying to box out and Brown suplexed him to begin the melee. The fight ensued behind the baseline as coach Jeff Van Gundy & the various garbage time players on the floor, including John Wallace, attempted to separate the players.

Not learning the lessons from the 1994 NBA Playoffs, Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Larry Johnson, and Allan Houston all left the bench area to break up the fight. As a result, each of the 4 players were suspended one game each along with Charlie Ward. The NBA suspended PJ Brown 2 games for his role in the brawl.

With the multitude of suspensions, the NBA decided to stagger the suspensions, by last name order, over both Game 6 and 7. Ewing, Houston, & Ward were out for Game 6 and Johnson & Starks were out for Game 7. Although the Knicks were leading 3-2 in the series, the suspensions left the team severely undermanned. The Knicks lost both Games 6 and 7.

Before Game 6, the Knicks filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York to order a stay on the suspensions, arguing that the punishment should be determined in arbitration. The NBA Players Union sided with the Knicks alleging that the rule itself was never approved by the players in the collective bargaining agreement. On game day, the SDNY ruled in favor of the NBA arguing that the rule was plain and clear and within the rights of the league office.

The biggest “what-if” moment was determining how far the team would go into the NBA Playoffs. Had there been no suspensions, the Knicks most likely defeat the Heat and face off against the Chicago Bulls once again. The Bulls easily defeated the Heat in 5 games, but maybe the “new” Knick core of Ewing, Houston, & Larry Johnson provide a better fight.


May 14th 2003: Dave DeBusschere passed away

Dave DeBusschere passed away at the age of 63 after collapsing due to a heart attack. DeBusschere spent 6 seasons with the Knicks and won 2 championships. He was an 8 time All-Star and 6 time honoree of the All-Defensive Team. The Knicks retired his #22 and the NBA subsequently inducted him as one of the 50 Greatest Players in 1996. He was also inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame.

He also served in the Knicks front office and was responsible for drafting Patrick Ewing.

On This Date: Knicks win NBA Draft Lottery

May 12th 1985: Knicks win NBA Draft Lottery

1985 marked the first year the NBA instituted the draft lottery system to determine the draft order of the non-playoff bound teams. At the time, each non-playoff team received a lottery envelope to determine their draft position and had the same probability of receiving the #1 pick. In 1987, the lottery was modified so that only the first 3 picks were determined by the lottery. By 1990, the system shifted to a weighted system where the worst team had the best odds of receiving the #1 pick.

The Knicks, with team president Dave DeBusschere as the team’s representative, won the first ever NBA Draft Lottery. The Knicks beat the Indiana Pacers, who subsequently received the #2 overall pick. There was a near consensus that Patrick Ewing was the #1 overall pick. The Knicks, with the #1 overall pick, drafted Ewing and the rest is history.

Various NBA conspiracy theorists claimed that the draft lottery was rigged in favor of the Knicks to save the franchise. Conspiracy theorists believed that the NBA wanted Ewing in New York for box office reasons. There was another conspiracy theory that the Knicks envelope was frozen beforehand and allowed Stern to easily pick it up in the lottery. Most of those theories seem quite ludicrous, but I’ll take whatever’s necessary for the team to land Zion Williamson.


May 12th 1990: Patrick Ewing’s 45 points lifts the Knicks past the Pistons in Game 3

Down 0-2 in the 1990 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Ewing carried the New York Knicks with 45 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, & 3 blocked shots to defeat the Detroit Pistons 111-103 in Game 3. Ewing scored 45 on 14-24 from the field and 17-18 from the free throw line.

The victory helped the Knicks snap a couple streaks the Pistons held, including 12 straight playoff wins & a 4 game road winning streak. Unfortunately, the 1990 Detroit Pistons proved to just be too dominant as they won the next 2 games to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pistons ultimately won their 2nd consecutive NBA Championship.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing & Alonzo Mourning face off in the playoffs for the first time

May 9th 1993: Patrick Ewing & Alonzo Mourning’s first NBA Playoffs matchup

Former Georgetown Hoya alums Patrick Ewing & Alonzo Mourning faced each other in the NBA Playoffs for the first time on this date. For Ewing, this was his 6th straight season in the playoffs. For Zo, this was his 1st experience in the NBA Playoffs as this was his rookie campaign with the Charlotte Hornets. After Ewing graduated from Georgetown in 1985, the university waited 3 years until Mourning & Dikembe Mutombo both arrived on campus to man the Hoya frontcourt.

As for the playoff game itself, the vastly experience Knicks defeated the Hornets 111-95 in Game 1. This was the Hornets’ first year in the NBA Playoffs. Ewing won the battle against Zo with 33 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots. Zo had a respectable performance with 27 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks, but also committed 7 turnovers. His lack of experience2 proved to be costly as Ewing took advantage of him both defensively and offensively. Zo allowed Ewing to feast on the perimeter where his patented jump shot proved to be key to victory.

Anthony Mason had a double double off the bench with 11 points, 11 rebounds, & 5 assists in 38 minutes. There were several former and future Knicks on the Hornets roster at the time. Larry Johnson, a then 2nd year player, missed most of the game with a sprained right leg. Former Knicks Johnny Newman & Sidney Green played a decent role for the Hornets in Game 1. Newman started and scored 18 points in 28 minutes. Future Knick David Wingate, who’d become merely a garbage time presence with the team, entered in garbage time for the Hornets.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing returns from wrist surgery

May 7th 1998: Patrick Ewing returns from wrist surgery

Patrick Ewing’s wrist surgery in December seemed to doom the Knicks’ 1998 season at the onset. However, Ewing eventually found his way back to face the Pacers in Game 2 of the 1998 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Ewing scored 10 points in 27 minutes in an 85-77 loss in Indianapolis.

Due to rust from the wrist surgery, Ewing was not able to regain his shooting touch as he shot less than 36% from the field. Despite emotions running high due to Ewing’s return, it was not enough to stop the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The younger legs in the Pacers frontcourt proved too much to overcome for the Knicks’ aging big men.

The Pacers series foreshadowed several trades after the season that would dramatically change the makeup of the roster and lead to an unexpected run to the finals in 1999.

On This Date: Knicks comeback from 0-2 to advance to the 1990 Eastern Conference Semifinals

May 6th 1990: The New York Knicks, down 0-2, come back and advance to the 1990 Eastern Conference Semifinals after defeating the Boston Celtics

Against a stacked Boston Celtics roster containing Hall of Famers Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, & Robert Parrish, amongst others, the New York Knicks defeated the Boston Celtics on the road 121-114 in Game 5 to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Knicks had not won a regular season game in Boston in the last 6 years or a playoff game in 16 years. The Knicks became the third team in NBA history to win a best-of-5 series after being down 0-2.

Ewing led the way for the Knicks with 31 points, 8 assists, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots in 47 minutes. The younger legs of Charles Oakley cooked the older McHale with a commanding double double (26 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists). In a battle of veteran PGs, Maurice Cheeks went back-and-forth with Dennis Johnson and scored 21 points on 8-10 from the field. Cheeks also played the entire 48 minutes.

This matchup marked the temporary halt to the Knicks/Celtics rivalry. As the Knicks dominated throughout the 1990s, the Celtics fell into a rebuilding mode after debilitating injuries to Bird & McHale and the tragic death of Reggie Lewis. As the Knicks slipped to the doldrums in the 2000s, the Celtics began their quest to contend in the playoffs, culminating in a championship in 2008. The Knicks & Celtics would not reappear in the playoffs until 2011 when Carmelo Anthony & Amare Stoudemire teamed up.

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 scores 44 to rout the Celtics in Game 4 of the 1990 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

May 4th 1990: Patrick Ewing scores 44 to rout the Celtics in Game 4 of the 1990 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

After the Knicks won Game 3 at home, Patrick Ewing carried the Knicks with 44 points in a 135-108 victory in an elimination game against the Boston Celtics. Ewing scored 44 on 18-24 from the field and 8-9 from the free throw line. He also had 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 7 steals, and 2 blocked shots in a game that would resemble heaven for a fantasy basketball player.

With the Knicks up 8 at halftime, they expanded the lead to 18 in the 3rd quarter. The lead eventually ballooned all the way to 37 points by the 4th quarter and brought the Celtics to a point of no return.

The Celtics had no answer for Ewing as he just simply dominated in the post. With the Knicks down 2-0 in the series, and also being a victim of allowing an NBA playoff record 157 points in Game 2, Ewing took the brunt of the responsibility to lead the team to the Semifinals. This game 4 effort helped Ewing put on an encore performance in Game 5 to come back and defeat the Celtics.

Additionally, Gerald Wilkins & Johnny Newman scored 20 and 24 points respectively in 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: Patrick Ewing & Mark Jackson win their first playoff series

May 2nd 1989: Patrick Ewing & Mark Jackson win their first playoff series to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals

Patrick Ewing & Mark Jackson advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the first time in their NBA careers while the Knicks won their first playoff series since Bernard King led the crusade in the 1983-84 season. The Knicks defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in overtime 116-115 to complete the three game sweep. As Ewing struggled most of the evening, Gerald Wilkins came to the team’s rescue by knocking down the go-ahead 19 foot jumper with 6 seconds left in overtime.

Although the Knicks swept the 76ers, the 3 game matchup proved to be very close and was only decided by a couple clutch baskets. Mark Jackson hit a clutch 3 point basket in Game 1 while Trent Tucker hit the go-ahead shot in Game 2. The series marked a significant contrast to the previous season where the Boston Celtics easily defeated the Knicks in 4 games.

On This Date: Knicks sweep the Cleveland Cavaliers

May 1st 1996: The New York Knicks sweep the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1st round of the 1996 NBA Playoffs

Just like old time’s sake, the duo of Patrick Ewing & John Starks help lead the way for the Knicks to handily sweep the Cleveland Cavaliers 81-76 in the first round of the 1996 NBA Playoffs. Ewing had a double double with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots. Starks led the Knicks with 22 points and shot 5-7 from the three point stripe.

Unlike their previous playoff matchups in the Riley era, the Knicks began the series on the road due to the Cavaliers winning the regular season tiebreaker. However, the series proved to be easy for the Knicks. Throughout the playoffs, the Knicks also wore their new alternate road uniforms with the darker blue uniforms with black panels trimmed in orange. Those uniforms became the Knicks primary road jerseys in the 1997-98 season.

On This Date: 20-0 Run helps the Knicks sink the Cavaliers in Game 1

April 25th 1996: Knicks go on a 20-0 run in the 4th quarter to sink the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

Through the first 3 quarters, the Cavaliers & Knicks were stuck in a tight battle. But with 9 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter and the Cavs up 75-74, Patrick Ewing hit a jumper in the lane to begin a 20-0 run. The run put the Knicks up 94-75 and they cruised to a 106-83 blowout victory.

The fun was facilitated by some ridiculous ball movement. The Knicks had 32 assists with only 4 turnovers. 3 Knicks had 7 assists, including Anthony Mason (10 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists), John Starks (21 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists), and Derek Harper (12 points, 7 assists). Ewing led the way with 23 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocked shots.

The Cavaliers’ constant double teaming facilitated the ball movement. Hubert Davis (5 three pointers made, 4 in the 4th quarter) and John Starks (6 three pointers) were recipients of the great passing. Starks & Davis helped lead the Knicks to a team playoff record of 17 three pointers made.

 

On This Date: Knicks win Game 1 against Anthony Mason and the Charlotte Hornets

April 24th 1997: The New York Knicks defeat the Charlotte Hornets in Game 1 of the 1997 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

The Knicks/Hornets rivalry intensified during the 1996-97 season after the Larry Johnson/Anthony Mason trade. LJ left the Hornets on a sour note after publicly requesting a trade due to a disillusionment regarding the direction of the franchise and a desire for a long-term contract. The trade left a severely bitter taste in Mase’s mouth. He felt resentment after the trade and alleged that Patrick Ewing played a role in his departure. Ewing & Mase clashed offensively over the course of their 5 year tenure. Mase clamored more touches during the Riley era & Ewing often complained about lack of touches during the short Don Nelson run.

During the regular season, the Hornets won 3 of the 4 matchups, including the last 3. Their last game in February delved into heated tensions at halftime where both John Starks & Glen Rice had to be separated after yelling “you want some of this” in the tunnel.

Despite the regular season acrimony, the real battle began on Game 1 when Mase returned to MSG and Larry Johnson faced off against his old team. To begin the playoffs, the Knick players wore warmup shirts with the slogan “make em feel ya.” Starks created the slogan on behalf of the team. Additionally, 8 of the players shaved their heads as part of the playoff tradition, including Allan Houston & LJ.

The Knicks did defeat the Hornets 109-99 in Game 1. It was the new Knicks – Houston, Childs, & LJ – that made the most contributions in the victory. Houston led the team with 25 points on 4-7 from three and LJ scored 20 on 2-4 from three. Chris Childs scored 14 points and had 8 assists. The Knicks held a 13 point lead at halftime, but the Hornets erased the lead by the end of the 3rd quarter. The Knicks eventually built a 10 point cushion in the 4th for the victory.

Despite the tenacious rivalry during the regular season, the Knicks handily swept the Hornets to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing sets the Knicks all-time single season scoring record

April 20th 1990: Patrick Ewing sets the Knicks single season scoring record

Despite the fact that the Knicks lost 126-112 to the Atlanta Hawks, Patrick Ewing had a momentous night in setting the team’s all-time scoring record. He broke the Knick record of 2,303 points held by Richie Guerin.

Ewing ended up with 2,347 points scored on an average of 28.6 ppg. Ewing also played the entire regular season which itself was a remarkable feat of durability. The 28.6 ppg only ranks 4th on the all-time scoring list. Bernard King holds the Knicks record with 32.9 ppg, but was bedeviled by the unfortunate ACL injury that shortened his season. Guerin scored 29.5 ppg in his record-setting season, but only played in 78 games. Carmelo Anthony led the NBA with 28.7 ppg in the 2012-13 season, but only played in 67 regular season games.

Ewing’s scoring record to this date is quite impressive especially due to his ability to be durable. In an era where “load management” is routine rather than reviled, it’s hard to see Ewing’s record broken anytime soon.

On This Date: Melo’s 42 point playoff outburst against the Boston Celtics

April 19th 2011: Carmelo Anthony caries Knicks with 42 points in Game 2 loss

Without Chauncey Billups due to a knee injury and Amare Stoudemire in the 2nd half due to back spasms (after attempting dunks in practice), Carmelo Anthony single handedly willed the Knicks during this game. Melo scored 42 points and had 17 rebounds and 6 assists. He led the Knicks in just about every offensive category. However, it wasn’t enough to defeat the Boston Celtics as the Knicks lost 96-93.

In prime Melo fashion, he scored from all over the court. Whether it was in the paint, in the midrange (via his signature jab steps), or from the three point arc, Melo was proficient and neither Jeff Green or Paul Pierce could stop him alone. He kept the team in the game despite being severely outmanned by the defending Eastern Conference champions.

Ultimately, Kevin Garnett hit the go-ahead basket in the final seconds. Melo tried to feed the ball to Jared Jeffries after seeing a double team, but Jeffries fumbled the go-ahead pass and the Celtics stole the ball from him.

Melo’s performance in Game 2 made me wonder what happened if the NBA Lockout didn’t happen. Perhaps a proper offseason would have helped coach D’Antoni fully utilize Melo’s talents (especially on the passing end). We may have seen a souped up Olympic Melo, but that memory will only exist in our dreams.


April 19th 1996: Patrick Ewing records his only triple double

Patrick Ewing recorded his only triple double in his NBA career with 28 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists. Unfortunately, the Knicks lost to the Charlotte Hornets 115-108. The game was merely important for the Knicks to establish playoff seeding and home court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Future Knick Larry Johnson hurt the Knicks with 28 points and 18 rebounds.

 

On This Date: Ewing scores 41 in a blowout against the Indiana Pacers

April 13th 1988: Patrick Ewing scores 41 in a blowout against the Indiana Pacers

Patrick Ewing completely dominated the Indiana Pacers with 41 points in only 26 minutes in a 127-107 blowout against the Indiana Pacers. Ewing hit 18-24 from the field and would have had more points had he not sat for most of the 2nd quarter due to foul trouble. Ewing only played half the 4th quarter as the Knicks had a 25 point lead when he left the game to a standing ovation.

This game was a stretch of 4 of 6 games where Ewing scored more than 36 points  (with 40+ in 2 of the games). Each game was important for the Knicks to stay afloat in the playoff seeding. This victory helped the Knicks move into the 7th seed in the playoff race. The Knicks settled into the 8 seed when they faced the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Largely due to playoff inexperience (this was Ewing’s first playoff series), the Knicks lost to the Celtics in 4 games.

On This Date: Ewing scores 36 and hit the go-ahead fade away in OT to defeat the Detroit Pistons

April 11th 1988: Patrick Ewing scores 36 and hits the go-ahead fade-away to defeat the Detroit Pistons in Overtime

Patrick Ewing carried the Knicks on offense with 36 points, on 11-15 from the field and 14-20 from the free throw line, to help defeat the Detroit Pistons 114-111 in overtime. Ewing hit the go-ahead fade away jumper to put the Knicks up 1 and was fouled on the play by Isiah Thomas. While Ewing couldn’t convert the 3 point play, Dennis Rodman was not able to secure the defensive rebound. Johnny Newman eventually went to the line to hit the two clutch free throws to put the Knicks up by 3 to win the game.

The Knicks, led by Rick Pitino, employed their two center rotation during stretches of the game to overwhelm the Pistons. Bill Cartwright scored 21 points off the bench in 35 minutes.

Furthermore, Mark Jackson clinched the NBA rookie record for most assists/game with a near-triple double effort. Jackson had a near triple double with 13 points, 8 rebounds, 13 assists, and 5 steals. He went on to average 10.6 assists/game to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award.

 

 

On This Date: Bernard King returns after a 2 year absence from his devastating knee injury

April 10th 1987: Bernard King returns after a 2 year absence due to injury

Bernard King received a rousing ovation from the MSG faithful in his return to the basketball court against the Milwaukee Bucks. King missed more than 2 years recovering from a torn ACL, torn knee cartilage, and a broken leg bone.

Although the Bucks trounced the Knicks 132-93, King scored 7 points off the bench in 23 minutes of action. He spent the next game coming off the bench before returning to the starting lineup. King averaged nearly 23 points/game in the final 6 games of the 1986-87 season.

Sadly, Knicks fans never saw King & Patrick Ewing play together. Ewing was out for the remainder of the 1986-87 season after suffering a sprained left knee. After the season, the Knicks decided not to sign King to a new contract. There were various theories to why the Knicks refused to sign King, including feeling disappointed King was away from the team during his rehabilitation, fear of loss of athleticism, age, and preference to move in a rebuilding mode. None of those theories seemed to make sense at the time or in hindsight.

King nearly fully recovered from his injury to have 3 straight 20 ppg seasons with the Washington Bullets (including a remarkable 28.4 ppg in the 1989-90 season). The Knicks ultimately drafted Mark Jackson that began a stretch of 14 straight seasons in the playoffs. At the same time, the Knicks had a void at SF and even had to trade a 1st round pick to fill its need (Kiki Vandeweghe). It makes me wonder whether the Knicks should have just ponied up to keep him.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing plays his last game in MSG with the Orlando Magic

April 9th 2002: Patrick Ewing plays his last game in MSG as a member of the Orlando Magic

In what will always be a weird sight in Knicks history, Patrick Ewing played what would be his last game in Madison Square Garden, but with the Orlando Magic. Ewing started for the Magic, for purposes of recognizing the moment, and had 5 points and 5 rebounds in 19 minutes. The Magic defeated the Knicks 108-97.

After playing sparingly throughout the game, Ewing re-entered the game with a minute remaining as the Magic were up 9. Ewing received a roaring ovation from the MSG faithful as his former teammates Charlie Ward, Kurt Thomas, Allan Houston, & Latrell Sprewell were on the floor. Ewing finished the final minute of the game as the crowd roared once again after the buzzer to commemorate Ewing’s career.

Ewing’s final season with Orlando was quite strange to almost any fan of the NBA. The sight of the Orlando Magic uniform and not seeing him in his signature #33 (Grant Hill wore the jersey at the time) was even more bizarre. Interestingly enough, Ewing played with perhaps the most talented and athletic teammate ever in Tracy McGrady. He also reunited with former teammates Monty Williams & Doc Rivers (as coach of the Magic).

The Magic victory helped them clinch a playoff spot and gave Ewing one more opportunity to taste the playoffs. The Knicks missed the playoffs for the first time since Ewing’s sophomore season.

On This Date: Ewing scores 37 to squeak victory against the Pacers

March 30th 1999: Patrick Ewing scores 37 points to lead the Knicks past the Pacers

Patrick Ewing led the Knicks with 37 points, 15 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots to help the Knicks secure a 94-93 victory at home against the Indiana Pacers. The 37 points were the most Ewing scored since March 1997, before he tore his Achilles. The game was very close over the the entire game, with neither team securing more than a 5 point lead.

With less than 2 minutes left, the Knicks trailed 93-90. Latrell Sprewell, who scored 18 points off the bench, scored the final 4 points in the game to help the Knicks secure the victory. Spree first scored a layup off a Miller miss to cut the deficit to one. After the Pacers missed their next 3 shot attempts, they fouled Spree after grabbing a rebound to send him to the line to hit the go-ahead free throws.

In what was just another norm in the Knicks/Pacers rivalry, Ewing got into an altercation with Jalen Rose. The two players tussled with each other grabbing a rebound. Ewing pushed Rose down after grabbing the board and Rose subsequently tripped Ewing as he ran up the court. The two went to confront each other with referee Dick Bavetta attempting to mediate. Rose went to throw a punch, but instead accidentally struck Bavetta in the nose, requiring surgery. Ewing didn’t throw a punch. The NBA only fined Ewing $2,500 for the altercation, but suspended Rose for 1 game and fined him $5,000.

The win put the Knicks at 17-14 as they continued to fight for a playoff seed. The loss still kept the Pacers 1.5 games behind the Orlando Magic with the best record in the Eastern Conference. As we know quite well, the Knicks would face the Pacers again in the playoffs and would upset them on the way to an unprecedented NBA Finals trip.

On This Date: Knicks broke 6 game losing streak as Ewing hit his first career 3 pointer

March 27th 1990: Knicks break 6 game losing streak as Ewing hit his first career 3 pointer

The Knicks defeated the Washington Bullets 119-100 to break a 6 game losing streak. Ewing led the way with 41 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots. He was 14-22 from the field and 12-14 from the foul line. More impressively, Ewing made his first career three pointer. The three put the team up 18 with 1:44 remaining in the 3rd quarter. He would only make 18 more three pointers over the remainder of his career, the bulk of which occurred between the 1993-94 season and the 1995-96 season.

The game marked another matchup against former Knick Bernard King. King led the Bullets with 23 points, but it wasn’t enough to stop Ewing and the Knicks.

 

On This Date: Ewing scores a career high 51 points

March 24th 1990: Patrick Ewing scores a career high 51 points in a loss against the Boston Celtics

Despite losing 115-110 to the Boston Celtics in MSG, Patrick Ewing exploded for a career high 51 points in the effort. Ewing scored 51 on 20-29 from the field and 11-13 from the free throw stripe. Ewing also grabbed a ridiculously absurd 18 rebounds. The 51 points and 18 boards amounted to nearly half of the team’s total efforts on both ends.

Ewing simply put on a clinic in the post. He got almost any shot he wanted with a wide array of moves including turn around baskets, fade aways, and layups within the post. It seemed as if he would score any time he touched the ball. A complete dominant effort on the offensive end.


March 24th 1981: Knicks retire Dave DeBusschere’s number

The Knicks retired Dave DeBusschere’s #22 on this date. DeBusschere spent 6 seasons with the Knicks and was part of the team’s 2 championships. He was known as a very tenacious rebounder and defender, making 5 straight NBA All-Defensive Teams from 1969 until his retirement. He was selected to 4 straight NBA All-Star games from 1970-1974.

After his tenure in the NBA, DeBusschere spent his time working in the front office for the Nets in the 1970s before re-joining the Knicks front office in the 1980s. His lasting moment was winning the 1985 draft lottery to select Patrick Ewing with the #1 pick.