They may have needed five extra minutes to do so, but the New York Knicks won a game for the first time in what seemed like forever. They did so because of Carmelo Anthony, their shiny new star, who exploded for 33 points in the second half and overtime, as the Knicks beat the Orlando Magic 113-106 to snap a six game losing streak. Dwight Howard fouled out in overtime, albeit on a horrendous loose-ball foul call, and was subsequently called for a technical foul. Chauncey Billups hit the ensuing free throw, effectively ending the game.
But it looked as though the Knicks would only need 48 minutes to snap the losing streak. Up 100-97 with 11 seconds left, the defensively-challenged Knicks needed just one stop. Of course, they could not get it, as Jared Jeffries, one of the Knicks only reliable defenders, had a total mental lapse and allowed Jason Richardson to take an uncontested three pointer which tied the game. Although it is the prudent play for a bad defensive team, asking the Knicks to foul in that spot is useless at this point. Mike D’Antoni never has done it, and it’s obvious he never will. But the Knicks got away with it this time, and were able to outlast the Magic over the final five minutes.
Anthony grabbed 10 rebounds to go along with his 39 points, and showed some rare defensive vigor. Bench player Shelden Williams played a vital role as well, and had the Knicks held on in regulation, the former Duke star would have been the unsung hero of the game. Williams did a solid job against Howard, coming up with a big steal and offensive rebound late in the fourth.
It was a game that proved that if the Knicks just simply give a good effort on defense, they have the type of offensive team that is tough to stop. If the Knicks play as they did tonight, they should win their next three games; all home games against bad Eastern Conference teams. Simply put, the Knicks need to beat the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday to validate tonight’s win over the Magic. For now though, they can breathe easy for the first time in a long time.