Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year, New Normal

Playing for the first time in 2010, the New York Knicks routed the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden, 132-89. And almost nobody noticed. There are three reasons for this.

1) The Jets were playing a nationally televised game last night in the Meadowlands with a playoff berth on the line.
2) Lots of people don't care about the NBA. Especially in (October through...) January (...through June).
3) A Knicks' win no longer qualifies as a "man bites dog" situation.

The first two reasons are self explanatory. The third reason is actually quite shocking if you think about the state of this team at the start of December when they were 3-15. At that point, Mike D'Antoni's Knicks were just barely behind the Nets in the race towards the bottom. Each Knickerbocker win was treated as a fragile, handmade curios like one might buy for their girlfriend from Etsy. In November the few Knicks' wins were to be examined, appreciated and set aside in a glass-walled cabinet alongside small animal figurines. They were conversation pieces for longtime fans, collected and cataloged but not for everyday use.

In the span of few weeks, though, the circumstances have changed. Including last night's home win over Indy, the Knicks have won 10 of their last 15 games. They've learned that, on defense, effort can make up lack of acumen. The Knicks held 12 foes under 100 points during the month as opposed to just 2 previously. They've righted the ship after the franchise-worst 1-9 start. They've put themselves squarely in the hunt for the eighth spot (and maybe even the seventh, sixth and fifth) in the Eastern Conference.

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