A salute to desperation.

BY DAN

It’s hard to know who was more desperate for a victory last night – the Knicks or their fans.

The crowd at Madison Square Garden was loud. So loud that those of us not lucky enough to live in New York could feel the desperation across the world. They were hopeful that today could be the day that ended the franchises longest single season losing streak. The New York Times called the noise ‘rapturous’ – as if the fans were praying that if they’re losing streak didn’t end, hopefully the world might.

The online community of Knicks supporters tweeted every emotion, every borderline literate thought, pleading with the team they love so much to do enough, to do anything, to end the pain of the last month. It was like twitter was bargaining with fate – hoping that maybe if people tweeted enough it might add up in some way on the scoreboard. 15,000 miles away I watched on my phone, sitting in a spare office at my job, using the last of my data allowance for the month, hoping that this time I wouldn’t regret it. Ok, it wasn’t the spare room – it was a cubicle in the bathroom.

Like I said, I was desperate.

And for their part the Knicks matched their fans desperation. Started out of what one could see as pure desperation, former D-Leaguer Langston Galloway was a standout on offence. Giving the Knicks accuracy from the outside, Galloway also provided the penetration from the perimeter the Knicks offense had been missing all season.

Melo scored 24 in the win.
Melo scored 24 in the win.

Louis Amundson, Melo, Jose Calderon and Jason Smith all found themselves with a little more space on the perimeter and around the bucket because the attention that Galloway drew. If Jose Calderon’s shot hadn’t been so off through the first 47 minutes of the game he would’ve benefited more. Melo, after ignoring Galloway when he was doubled early in the game, began to find the rookie in the 3rd, resulting in critical three-pointers that seemed to instil a belief in both the team and the fans that they might actually win! All while relying on the offence being driven by a rookie on a ten day contract?

What can I say – desperate times call for desperate measures.

The Knicks found an aggressiveness on defence that frankly hadn’t been seen this season. And everyone chipped in. Melo crashed the boards. Amare, for all his positioning faults, challenged shots at the rim, as did Amundson, Melo and Jason Smith. Galloway’s effort on the offensive end was replicated on the defensive end, and even Tim Hardaway worked his tail off to stop Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon from getting to the rack. Hustle plays abounded – from Amundson to Amare to Galloway, whose put-back dunk in the 4th resulted in near pandemonium.

The level of effort from the Knicks defence was perhaps best exemplified in Jason Smith managing to stay with Pelican’s guard Eric Gordon after a switch late in the shot clock left him with the quicker guard on the perimeter. Gordon got into position to get off a shot, but Smith rotated from the weakside to make sure the Pelican’s didn’t score. This was only the first quarter, but the Knicks needed this energy.

They were desperate.

And it has to be noted that this Knicks team was pushed all the way by a team missing Anthony Davis, probably the best player in the league not named Lebron or Durant.

Calderon sealed the game in the fourth after struggling all night.
Calderon sealed the game in the fourth after struggling all night.

They just beat a team missing their starting point guard, who was on the second night of a back-to-back. And it still took every ounce of luck, skill and effort to finish ahead at the end.

And when Calderon hit what seemed to be his first shot of the night (it was his second) to seal the game late in the 4th, the Knicks fans reacted with disbelief – understandable as it has been instilled in them over this disastrous season. According to Mike Breen they stuck there right to the end and after the game, just to cheer for the victory. These fans have learnt the hard way that these happier days are not guaranteed. The players responded as though a hefty weight had been lifted from their shoulders. Sleeping was probably a little easier last night.

After losing 16 in a row, and having won only 1 of their previous 28 games, this game represented a moment to rejoice. It may only be a respite, a temporary injunction from the hell that is this season. But they were desperate for this win.

We all were.

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