12 PLAYS OF CHRISTMAS: NUMBER 1

BERNARD KING SETS FRANCHISE RECORD WITH 60 POINTS (1984)

 

No. 1 – On December 25, 1984, the Knicks welcomed the Nets for a Christmas Day matinee. Bernard King had everything working that day, hitting mid-range jumpers, attacking the rim, dominating the paint, and getting to the free throw line. King went to the line an astounding 26 times, making 22 attempts. He had 40 points at halftime and although he cooled off in the second half, he was still scoring. Late in the game, he eclipsed Richie Guerin’s Knicks’ single-game record of 57 points, and shortly after that he sunk one of his 22 free throws to give him 60 points, becoming only the 10th player in NBA history to score at least 60 points in a single game.

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12 PLAYS OF CHRISTMAS: NUMBER 2

EWING LEADS KNICKS PAST CELTICS IN CHRISTMAS DEBUT

No. 2 – The spotlight was on No. 1 pick and rookie center Patrick Ewing, playing in his first Christmas Day against the vaunted Boston Celtics. Boston jumped out to a huge lead and with 6:39 left in the third quarter, they led by 25 points. The Knicks second unitl started to chip away at the lead and then Ewing came back into the game with 9:28 remaining. He proceeded to score 16 points in the next eight minutes, including 12 straight at one point, as the Knicks erased the deficit and forced overtime. The game went into double overtime, and with 4:05 remaining Ewing made a bank shot that put the Knicks up for good, as they went on to win, 113-104. Ewing finished with 32-points (a career-high at the time) and 11 rebounds.

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12 PLAYS OF CHRISTMAS: NUMBER 3

EWING HITS BUZZER BEATER TO TOP BULLS (1986)

No. 3 – Christmas Day in 1986 pitted two up and coming superstars in 24-year-old Patrick Ewing and 23-year-old Michael Jordan in one of the first of many battles these two would engage in over their careers. Ewing finished the day 28 points, 17 rebounds and 2 blocks while Jordan countered with 30 points, 3 rebounds, 5 dimes, 6 steals, and 2 blocks himself. However, it was Ewing who would get the better of Jordan on this day as Patrick hit a putback jumper as time expired to give the Knicks a 86-85 victory.

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12 PLAYS OF CHRISTMAS: NUMBER 4

HUBERT DAVIS 3-POINTER WITH 0.4 FORCES OT (1994)

No. 4 – After a heated seven-game series in the 1994 playoffs, the Knicks and Bulls met again on Christmas later that year. Patrick Ewing scored 30 for the Knicks, but on the other side Scottie Pippen racked up 36 points, 16 rebounds, five steals and two blocks. Despite Pippen’s big game, the Knicks hung in there and only found themselves down three points with 3.3 seconds left. Anthony Mason heaved a Hail Mary pass the length of the court right into the hands of Steve Kerr, who for some reason decided to bat the ball forward. The ball ended up right in the hands of Hubert Davis, who pulled up and drained a 3-pointer with just 0.4 seconds left on the clock.

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12 PLAYS OF CHRISTMAS: NUMBER 5

ALLAN HOUSTON’S THREE-POINT PLAY PUTS GAME ON ICE (2001)

No. 5 – The Raptors paid a visit to The Garden on Christmas Day in 2001, the first game between the two teams since the Raptors eliminated the Knicks in the postseason the season prior. The Knicks jumped out to a 20-point lead in the first quarter, but the Raptors kept chipping away and cut the deficit to one point with just over three minutes remaining. Then, Allan Houston stepped up. Houston, who scored a game-high 34 points, drove strong to the hole and got a friendly roll and the foul. He made the free-throw to give the Knicks a four point lead as they held on for a 102-94 victory.

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12 PLAYS OF CHRISTMAS: NUMBER 6

DANILO GALLINARI GOES STRONG TO THE RACK (2009)

No. 6 – After an eight-year hiatus, the Knicks returned to Christmas Day to face the Heat in 2009. Dwyane Wade led all scorers 30 with points, but second-year pro Danilo Gallinari wasn’t far behind. Gallinari attacked the basket at will all game long, and on this play he blew by the Heat defender and headed straight for the rim, like a running back charging through the hole. Gallinari finished with 26 points and eight rebounds, but Miami held off a late charge by New York for the 93-87 victory.

**missing vid

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12 PLAYS OF CHRISTMAS: NUMBER 8

AMAR’E REJECTS DERRICK ROSE (2010)

No. 8 – It was all about defense in the Knicks’ win over the Bulls on Christmas back in 2010. Coming into the game, the Knicks ranked 28th in the league, but on this day they brought their “A” game. Playing in his first Christmas Day game as a Knick, Amar’e Stoudemire led the way with six blocks, including this rejection of Derrick Rose that set the tone for the rest of the game in the first quarter.

**blacked out vid

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12 PLAYS OF CHRISTMAS: NUMBER 9

MELO FINDS CHANDLER FOR SWEET ALLEY-OOP (2011)

No. 9 – Tyson Chandler only scored seven points in his Knicks debut, but none were bigger than these two. Standing beyond the three-point line, Carmelo Anthony threw an overhead pass to rim and Chandler slammed it home for the alley-oop. The dunk brought the Knicks to within six points and thanks to some late heroics from Melo, the Knicks pulled off the comeback and beat the rival Celtics.

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The Knicks Fix: Melo Invokes McGraw

It was August 1973 when Mets chairman Donald M. Grant addressed his floundering team with a speech to keep them playing hard through September, despite being 12 games under .500 with 44 games to go and seemingly out of the pennant race.

It was in that meeting Tug McGraw, the rambunctious closer, jumped to his feet and shouted the now famous rally cry, “Ya gotta believe!”

On Wednesday after practice, following perhaps the most despondent performance of the season the night before against the Dallas Mavericks, Carmelo Anthony employed the phrase to his 5-22 Knicks team that is 6.5 games out of a playoff spot with 55 games to go.

“You gotta believe,” Melo said. “I’ve never been a quitter my whole life. It’s something you gotta believe in, that it will happen.”

Despite the team's struggles, Carmelo Anthony remains positive about the Knicks' outlook for the rest of the season.

That “it” Melo speaks of is in reference to better times ahead for a team that has lost half of its games by 5 points or less or in overtime. Not to mention a team that saw all five starters — wholly ineffective — replaced just minutes into the game Tuesday night against the Mavericks at The Garden.

Derek Fisher, who in 18 seasons as a player experienced losing just twice (two seasons in Golden State), seems confounded by the fragility of his team and the lack of competitive desire that, regardless of the situation, is at the root of the best professional athletes. It’s something Fisher, a tough competitor as a player, just can’t comprehend.

“You need to give yourself a chance to win,” Fisher said, “and [Tuesday night] we didn’t do that right from the start.”

A week after Phil Jackson identified a “loser’s mentality” within the team, Fisher talked about the continued effort being made to “break down the mindset of what we can’t do and continue to remind these guys that we’re repeatedly in the same situations.”

Melo this season has routinely implied something he sees around him: a collective lack of belief in the team and confidence in themselves. That is the result of the system providing open shots but players unable to hit them. That is the result of defensive breakdowns that come off of a lack of communication, recognition or sacrifice.

And then there’s the ‘e’ word: effort. It comes and goes like Tim Hardaway Jr.’s shooting touch.

That part seems to perplex Fisher the most. While he is often criticized for seeming stoic on the sidelines (fans love to see a ranting, raving, chair-throwing fit by a coach to mirror the anger in the stands), there have been several moments where Fisher has called quick timeouts — usually early in the third quarter — to bark at his team.

Fisher assured anyone wondering about his emotion that he has “plenty of it” and said he is learning as a coach when it’s appropriate and when it’s best to “not go to the well” too often.

“Emotions during the game are already high enough, often times that’s when you see confrontations between players and coaches,” he said. “There are ways to be confrontational and let guys know how you feel without being angry and out of control.”

That doesn’t mean Fisher will always remain calm, cool and collected. Remember, during his playing career, Fisher would get into it with Jackson in huddles. And don’t forget he once famously fought Kobe Bryant in practice.

This is an emotional, competitive man. He’s still learning his way as a coach.

“As time goes on,” he added, “the longer I’m here the more you’ll see.”

Meanwhile, after 27 games, has Melo seen enough to second-guess his decision to return to the Knicks and invest in this rebuild? As the Knicks headed for Chicago to play the Bulls on Thursday, he was reminded of the opportunity he could have taken if he signed with the Bulls, who are 15-9 and in fourth place in the East, and asked if he now wonders ‘what if’?

“No, if I start doing that, saying ‘What if’, and second-guessing myself, and questioning myself, it won’t be right,” he said. “For me, mentally, it wouldn’t be right. I would not allow myself to sway towards asking myself ‘What if’.”

OK so instead of looking back at the decision made, with the 5-22 start, does he find himself at times already looking ahead to next year with a roster rebuilt with salary cap space and a first round pick?

“You think about that,” Melo admitted. “It’s only right that you think about that. But I don’t try to put too much thought into what’s going to happen. We still have about 50 games left in the season.”

You gotta believe things will get better then.

FIXINS

  • JR Smith didn’t make the trip with the team to Chicago, which means he will sit out a fourth straight game dealing with a painful plantar fascia injury. Fisher said the decision was made to keep Smith back in New York to try to “accelerate the healing process as much as we can.” The Knicks play back-to-back afternoon games this weekend, starting with a 1 p.m. tip-off Saturday at The Garden against the Suns and a 3:30 p.m. start against the Raptors in Toronto on Sunday.
  • With the NBA Trade Season officially here, I will be keeping a very close eye on the Phoenix Suns. They are 13-14 in the West, in the ninth spot, with the now-healthy Thunder breathing down their neck. They also have a logjam at the point guard position with Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas and a need for wings and bigs. Would Bledsoe or Dragic be a fit in the Triangle?
  • What a tough year for NBA rookies. After Jabari Parker’s season-ending ACL injury, that makes three of the first seven picks out for the season, including Parker (second overall), Joel Embiid (third) and Julius Randle (seventh). Right now seven of the first 11 picks in the draft are out with injuries, with Aaron Gordon (foot), Marcus Smart (Achilles), Noah Vonleh (back) and Doug McDermott (knee) added to the list.
  • Keep in mind, too, the Knicks rookie Cleanthony Early (second round) is also out with a knee injury. He is slowly working his way back but isn’t yet ready to practice.
  • Remember, after tonight’s broadcast of the Knicks and Bulls on TNT, switch over to MSG Network for NYK Extra with me, Wally Szczerbiak and Bill Pidto!
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12 PLAYS OF CHRISTMAS: NUMBER 10

MELO MAKES ACROBATIC JUMPER FOR THE LEAD (2011)

No. 10 – Even after his game-tying three-pointer, Melo wasn’t done. With the game tied at 102, Melo took the ball at three-point line. He dribbled to the elbow, pumped faked, maneuvered himself through two Celtics defenders and drained the jumper to give the Knicks the lead. New York held on for a 106-104 win thanks to two late free throws from Melo and in the process snapped Boston’s nine-game winning streak against them.

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