It didn’t take long for the Knicks’ blockbuster acquisitions to take effect. Against a Bucks team that played with quite a bit of energy, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups made the necessary plays down the stretch to grab the Knicks a victory. Both looked a little shaky throughout the evening, but each cracked the twenty-point mark and sealed the victory in front of a bellowing Madison Square Garden crowd. Amar’e Stoudemire, who had a relatively off evening with just 19 points, picked up his sixth foul and was forced to sit through the closing moments of the fourth quarter. With the usual closer absent, the two new guys got their chance to reel in the win.
Billups helped keep the Bucks at arm’s length in the middle of the final period by drawing a charge, getting contact at the other end, and hitting a few big free throws. After that, the jewel of Tuesday night’s trade took it home. With Milwaukee buckled down on defense, Anthony made two extremely difficult isolation baskets to stave off a Milwaukee comeback.
Immediately, the upside of the deal was apparent. Previously this season, the Knicks have struggled during those late-game moments when defenses are sharpest and buckets are hard to come by. Particularly without Amar’e, New York has had quite a bit of trouble making the kill in crunch time. With minimal practice and little knowledge of their teammates, Billups and Anthony just relied on their talent and instincts to take over. Even as the team struggled to cohere and showed hints of nervousness, individual efforts were enough to make the difference. Knick fans couldn’t have asked for more.
They wouldn't have gotten to that point without some old friends, though. Aside from Amar'e's 19, Toney Douglas was masterful off the bench. He matched his spirited defense with a brilliant offensive outing, scoring 23 points on just 12 shots. While the other new acquisitions took a night to sit and watch the offense, the incumbent role players- Landry Fields, Shawne Williams, Ronny Turiaf, and Bill Walker each chipped in to earn the victory.