Jake Brown | Twitter |
That it feels like old times seems to be the reaction amongst Knicks fans going to games at Madison Sqaure Garden so far this season. Tuesday night, the buzz in the building truly felt like it.
There were a couple of plays prior to the fourth quarter that were special. Most notably, the series where Kristaps Porzingis had three straight blocks after a Kyle O'Quinn block was nuts. You never see a block after block after block after block ever. Unfortunately for the Knicks, Frank Ntilikina was called for a foul on the final one. When they played the replay on the scoreboard, you could hear the crowd essentially counting after each block.
But nobody got the crowd back into that game last night more than Doug McDermott. "Dougie McBuckets!" That's what Kyle O'Quinn yelled in the locker room after the game when the media was chatting with McDermott. He made the crowd come to life again early in the fourth quarter when he drained a three to cut the lead to eight. Then he did his best Larry Johnson impression finishing a four-point play that had the building buzzing.
With under five minutes to go, McDermott put the icing on the cake, knocking down a quick pull-up three from the corner with a hand in his face to get the Hornets' lead down to just two. Those three-pointers brought the Knicks to life, and brought The Garden to life, and were essential to that comeback.
"Doug's a beast," Lance Thomas said after the game. "He was doing this in practice. We know what he's capable of doing, and he's doing it."
With Ntilikina getting more time and the unit as a whole playing together, it's paying off for these guys off the bench.
"I've felt more comfortable in the last few games," McDermott said. "I think a lot of it is guys that haven't played together a whole lot are getting used to each other. Just coming out and being confident and trusting everyone out there on the floor. Whenever that happens it allows me to get more open spots."
McDermott, Ntilikina, and Thomas have all been getting big minutes down the stretch. All have hit big shots when it mattered most, but more importantly, they are playing terrific defense. The confidence has this team believing. They have won three straight, six of their last seven, and are 6-4 on the season after an 0-3 start. They're currently 5th in the Eastern Conference.
"I think sky's the limit for this team. I think we can surprise some people," McDermott said. Surprising people is exactly what the Knicks have done following us talking about them being the worst team in the NBA after the first three games.
It's a long season with a lot of up and downs and this team isn't going to be on the run forever, but right now, it's truly a spectacle to watch. The Garden has that energy in it that it hasn't had in the past 15 years, maybe outside of the 2012-2013 season where they made the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
This team is very likeable, young, and they have different guys playing different roles, stepping up each night. This is can't-miss basketball each game, because if you get up to go get a beer, you may just miss a Porzingis 13-point stretch, or three consecutive blocks, or a Doug McDermott slam out of nowhere in someone's face. It's a total team effort from these Knicks, and it's only 10 games into the season.
The sky truly is the limit.