On This Date: Knicks score 133 to shock Pistons

November 23, 1988: Knicks utilize half-court trap and three pointers to shock the Detroit Pistons 133-111 in the Palace of Auburn Hills

The road to the championship for the Detroit Pistons, who went into the game 9-1, approached a bump in the road against Rick Pitino & the New York Knicks.  The combination of aggressive half-court traps and 3-point shots stifled the Pistons, who came into the game limiting opponents to only 98.6 points per game, a mark 2nd in the league.

Patrick Ewing led the way with 37 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, & 4 blocks and made 12-15 from the free throw line.  However, Johnny Newman & Trent Tucker played pivotal roles in the victory.  Newman & Tucker scored a combined 44 points on 8-13 from three.  The team overall shot 9-16 from three point distance.1

The game also showcased the combo point guard duo of Mark Jackson & Rod Strickland.  Both point guards got playing time together with the injury of Gerald Wilkins.  Jackson had a double double with 14 points and 14 assists.  Strickland had 9 points and 5 assists in 15 minutes.

The Pitino system frustrated the Pistons the entire night.  Pitino established the interior game with Ewing to draw fouls and open the floor for three point shots.  The team hit 35 free throws compared to 11 for the Pistons.  The aggressive trapping led to 22 Pistons turnovers and easy buckets (including threes) for the Knicks.  Future Knick GM Isiah Thomas committed 7 turnovers and, after the game, admitted the half-court press was “murder.”

On This Date: Knicks trade Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph

November 21, 2008: The New York Knicks trade Jamal Crawford & Zach Randolph in separate deals with the Golden State Warriors & Los Angeles Clippers, respectively, for Al Harrington, Tim Thomas, and Cuttino Mobley.

On the road to the summer of LeBron, Knicks GM Donnie Walsh traded Jamal Crawford to the Golden State Warriors for Al Harrington. He subsequently traded Zach Randolph for Cuttino Mobley & Tim Thomas. The contracts acquired all expired before the start of 2010 Free Agency.

At the time of the trade, Jamal Crawford had a scorching start with the Knicks under the new Mike D’Antoni speedball offense.2 Through 11 games, he was making more than 3 threes per game, at a 46% clip. Zach Randolph also started the season on a hot start averaging more than 20 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.

Cuttino Mobley never played another game after the trade. Mobley initially failed his physical due to a pre-existing heart condition discovered by the Clippers. Walsh allowed the trade to go through because his priority was getting under the cap. After visiting various doctors, Mobley announced his retirement on December 11th 2008 due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Tim Thomas rejoined the Knicks after spending less than 2 years with the Knicks earlier in the decade.  Thomas reunited with D’Antoni, whom he played under with the Phoenix Suns. Thomas mostly came off the bench and had his biggest highlight play when he dunked on Anthony Randolph.

Al Harrington returned home (Orange, NJ) after the trade to the Knicks. Harrington enjoyed moderate success with the Knicks both as a starter and a 6th man off the bench. The transition to the Knicks was pretty smooth as he was coming from a Nellie Ball offense that prioritized speed, small ball, and threes.  To Knick fans, Harrington had a fair share of nicknames2 and baffling decisions.  To be fair, he was quite productive under D’Antoni’s system and flipped his production into a generous 5 year contract with the Denver Nuggets in the summer of 2010.

 

On This Date: Knicks beat Warriors and Sprewell returns to face old team

November 20, 1999: The New York Knicks get a 86-79 victory in Golden State in a game that marked Latrell Sprewell’s return to Oakland and John Starks’ first matchup against the Knicks

Two years after Latrell Sprewell infamously chocked his coach in practice, he returned to Oakland for the first time wearing a New York Knicks uniform. In Sprewell’s return, he posted 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in 39 minutes in an 86-79 Knicks win.

John Starks, in his first matchup against his former team3, had a Starks-ian line with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals in 30 minutes. Chris Mills & Terry Cummings, the other former Knicks included in the trade that brought Sprewell to New York, scored 17 and 10 points, respectively.

For Sprewell, this was a highly anticipated matchup against his former coach PJ Carlesimo, who he attacked in practice. The choke seen around the world 2 led to a year-long suspension and eventual trade to the New York Knicks.

Despite the choking incident, the Sprewell trade worked out very well for the Knicks. While Jeff Van Gundy’s plodding offensive system prevented Sprewell from exceeding 20 points a game, he was a fearless scorer that added much needed athleticism to an aging roster and brought the same level of defensive intensity that personified the Knicks teams of the 90s.  His clutch play in the 1999 playoffs resonate with Knick fans to this date.

 

 

On This Date: Knicks beat Vancouver Grizzlies in inaugural matchup

November 19, 1995: The newly franchised Vancouver Grizzlies make their first visit to MSG and lose to the New York Knicks 98-93

The 1995-96 season marked the inaugural season for the Vancouver Grizzlies. November 19th marked their first matchup against the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden. In the 98-93 Knicks victory, Derek Harper led the team with 25 points, 5 assists, and 4 steals. Patrick Ewing had a double double with 13 points, 16 rebounds, and 3 blocks.

For the Grizzlies, former Knick Greg Anthony led the team with 18 points and 7 assists. Former Laker Byron Scott came off the bench to score 10 points. Their top draft pick, Bryant “Big Country” Reeves, scored  5 points in 10 minutes.

In addition to the Grizzlies, the Toronto Raptors also joined the NBA and also participated in the expansion draft.  Teams could protect 8 players who were under contract or restricted free agents.  Neither team could select any unrestricted free agents.  However, no team could lose more than one player in the expansion draft.  The Knicks protected Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, Derek Harper, John Starks, Charlie Ward, Charles Smith, Monty Williams, & Charlie Ward.

The Knicks consequently left Greg Anthony, Doug Christie, Herb Williams unprotected in the expansion draft.  For Greg Anthony, the team drafted Charlie Ward in the previous season and made Anthony expendable.  While Christie was a promising player, the Knicks thought Charlie Ward & Monty Williams had more potential.

Greg Anthony was the Grizzlies’ 1st pick and spent the next two seasons with the Grizzlies before jumping around the league with the Supersonics & Grizzlies, amongst notable teams.

Additionally, the Grizzlies hired former Knicks coach Stu Jackson to be the general manager.  Jackson lasted 5 seasons before accepting a position within the NBA league offices.  Jackson’s notable transactions included drafting Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Mike Bibby, & Steve Francis (who eventually forced a trade to the Rockets).

Bernard King visits with Knicks in Atlanta

David Fizdale continues to invite Knicks legends to meet with his young team. Most recently, it was Bernard King. The New York City scoring legend paid particular attention to Kevin Knox.

“I really want to build a relationship with [Bernard King] and Kevin,” Fizdale said via Marc Berman of the New York Post. “No one can talk about scoring and preparing and having a game built for certain areas of the floor better than Bernard King. And he’s ours, so I’m going to use him the best I can. You can see they’re over there talking now as we speak. I just think he’s going to be a great influence on Kevin.”

Great to see Bernard King excited to take Fizdale up on his offer.

 

John Starks, Rod Strickland excited about Knicks future

Knicks greats John Starks and Rod Strickland join Stephen A. Smith to discuss New York’s young players and outlook for the NBA season. Starks is confident that 2018 draft picks Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson will lead the Knicks to future success, while Strickland explains why Kevin Durant and other superstars should consider playing in New York City because it is “still a mecca of basketball.”