HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We are not worthy!
The Wednesday night slate of games around the league confirmed it. On a good night, there is simply an embarrassment of riches to choose from.
Instant classics on hallowed ground (Celtics-Knicks at the Garden) have a way of elevating the entire night.
We just hope you didn’t fall asleep on what was truly one of the most entertaining Hump Night slates of the season (don’t worry, we’ll have full recaps on all 11 games later today in Did You See What We Saw?):
It’s rare that a game hyped as much as the Celtics-Knicks game actually lives up to that hype. But we got everything any hoops fan could ask for, including two game-winning shots (Paul Pierce‘s was his usual assassin’s work while Amar’e Stoudemire’s was a split-second late, but would have made a great game even better).
Anyone wondering about this Knicks team and whether or not they are legit should have their answer. They bowed up on the big stage, helping create an atmosphere described by many as the most electric they’ve seen at Madison Square Garden in a decade.
They also cemented their status with the locals, which is always crucial in Gotham, detailed here by George Vecsey of the New York Times:
Sent an e-mail to somebody Wednesday afternoon that ended, “I’m at the Knicks game.”
The reply was: “Wish I was there — when was the last time anybody said that?”
Not in this century, anyway.
Imagine, Madison Square Garden serving as something more than to a shelter from the elements. But there it was, home to professional basketball once again, at just about the highest level, Knicks and Celtics, dead even after nearly 48 minutes.
The Celtics won the game, 118-116, on a jump shot by Paul Pierce with 0.4 of a second left, before Amar’e Stoudemire’s successful 3-point jumper was ruled a tick too late. But the place was rocking, like in the old days. All the expectations of the day had been met. “This is what everyone hopes for,” Mike D’Antoni, the Knicks’ coach, said after the game. “We went through 10 years of not much fun to get to this spot. Now, from here, we get better.”
The anticipation all over town can only get bigger after the way Stoudemire shot and drove his way to 39 points, the ninth straight game in which he has reached 30 points. And Danilo Gallinari scored all 20 of his points in the second half, 2 of them on a reverse two-handed dunk that raised the intensity of the 19,763 fans.
And, yes, Spike Lee was there early, wearing a Knick outfit that included very orange sleeves. And Donald Trump was there, with his Knickerbocker-orange hair, quite excited after the game,
It was the 10th sellout of the season, but the energy of the crowd was dramatically higher than it has been, according to one fan, Jake Nechamkin, who works in Manhattan.
“You can fill the Garden and they do a good job of getting V.I.P.’s,” he said, “but today you could feel the excitement all over the city.”
It stretched far beyond the city, all the way here to the hideout and beyond.
We can’t wait to see what kind of Broadway show the Knicks and Heat will put on Friday night at the Garden.
Speaking of the Heat, their win streak is now in double digits at 10. They join the Celtics (11) in that stratosphere and have passed all those teams in the Eastern Conference standings that stood between them and men in green a few short weeks ago.
The Bulls have also won seven straight, but the news out of Chicago isn’t all good. Joakim Noah will miss eight to 10 weeks after having surgery today to repair a torn ligament in his thumb. First Carlos Boozer and now Noah.
More from our main man K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
Noah is scheduled to miss eight to 10 weeks, not returning until after the All-Star break in late February or early March. That would be at least 30 games for the heart and soul — and rebounding machine — of the franchise.
“It sucks,” Noah said. “It’s not what I want. But I have to get back to playing at a high level. I’m tired of taking anti-inflammatory (pills) every time I play. I’m tired of not dribbling with my right hand.
“I’m going to miss playing. It’s frustrating because I feel we have a chance to be really, really good. But I know in the long run, this is what needs to be done.”
Having the surgery now ensures Noah will return in time for the playoffs.
“We’re disappointed for Jo,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He has put a lot of work in.
“But our guys are confident and the bench is deep. We have more than enough to win with. Taj (Gibson) and Kurt (Thomas) have started a bunch of games in the league. Lu (Deng) has been very, very effective at (power forward). And Carlos can go to (center) some.”
Boozer notched a double double (11 points, 11 rebounds) against the Raptors last night, cementing his warrior status by playing through whatever pain is associated with his injury.
But the tough part starts this evening.
As K.C. pointed out, former Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich had the same injury and procedure during the 2008-09 season and missed 31 games.
That’s a staggering amount of time for the Bulls to be without the man they call the “heart and soul” of their team.