It didn’t take much imagination to summon what those last two minutes of the third quarter would have felt. If you remember what became Madison Square Garden when the Knicks did not play well but the fans there think they had an interest in playing well …
Yeah. you know. You remember. Intellectually, you knew the park was empty on a Wednesday night, but when the Knicks turned 73-68 up to 78-75 up, where they polished 10-2 runs that they felt pulled from the ’90s archive, I almost heard pleas dropping from the cheap benches, all the way up To the stadium.
When Kevin Knox blocks a shot, where Austin Rivers steals, RJ Barrett slams one house for snaking it all down 8.1 seconds before the end of the quarter, you can summon the flowing, swirling noise, who will try to chase the jazz. Court, down to the bus. These moments in the park, the best moments, I swear you can see the momentum swinging for the home team.
Julius Randall later said, “It’s a pity that we can’t make our fans a part of this,” after The Knicks had drilled Utah, 112-100 – Outperforming Jazz by 30 points, after they had led 52-34 at the end of the second quarter.
Randall would have given customers something to get well and greedy as he turned what became his nightly routine stats streak: 30 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, a plus rating of 25. Later, of course, it would be Rivers, who became a phenomenon in the fourth quarter, It was he who scored 14 straight points to help turn a 96-96 draw into a 110-100 lead, leading to a four-point losing streak.
By that time, the park was going to feel as though it was about to collapse upon its foundation. You get that several times a year when you get a team like this, the team that attracts the attention of the faithful the way this team has had through those first eight matches. Watching the Knicks seat go crazy – Emmanuel Quickley and Barrett happily watching, cheering, on warm-ups – hinted at what it might have been like.
“I know the park is going to be rocking,” said Randall. “That’s what we all have in common.”
What the Knicks fans shared – what they longed for – is a team a lot like this one. Every night something else comes to enjoy. The Knicks had plunged into big holes in the previous two games – 15 in Atlanta on Monday, and 18 in front of Jazz on Wednesday – and both times they not only turned the blast into nail biting, they figured out how to win both games.
Coach Tom Tibudo said: “The NBA is a long game.” “You can fix it quickly. There is no safe lead and no deficiency can be overcome.”
Rivers said, “The men had a sense of urgency. They started talking to each other, saying,“ Let’s catch them point by point. ”We knew we didn’t need to run on our ground, let’s just play basketball, and then everyone started having fun, and competing, One led thing to another and then it became a ball game again. “
It was a ball game again, then it was a fourth quarter of stick and move, Jazz tried to keep their legs in the second half of a back-to-back game (after they had smoked in Brooklyn Tuesday night), the Knicks hoping their legs would survive the eight-man rotation she forced Early season injuries.
And here’s the amazing thing about this team: You can almost understand it if, early in the season, players rely on enthusiastic crowds to outrun them. But as much as you might want to imagine it all as a fan, the fact of the guys is this: It’s like playing in an open-air gym in high school, nobody watches but each other and some scattered people wandering the gym from the cafeteria to the bio lab.
You know what you’re missing.
But they also know what’s missing.
“I’m still trying to imagine it,” said Rivers, who finished the race with 23 points in 32 minutes. “I can imagine what it was like when I was playing against them. The fans here have a lot of energy, and I can’t wait. It will happen. We hope, then, that we get people back here. This is the best place to play basketball and everyone knows that.”
shook his head.
“Those lights are coming down, the darkness is standing …
“There is no such thing.”
Yeah. you know. You remember.