Knicks’ Prolific Comeback Makes History


1. If this is what a rebuild looks like, why didn’t we do this sooner?

Perhaps the most statistically prolific quarters in the franchise’s seven-decade history was the highlight of a euphoric Thanksgiving Eve win at The Garden, where the crowd seems to be enjoying these weekly doses of catharsis. Last week it was the second quarter against the Cavaliers, but that game ended in defeat.

This time the Knicks held on for the win. Trust the PROGRESS, indeed.

Meanwhile, the Raptors announced after the game that their entire roster — coaching staff included — were in the concussion protocol. That third quarter was the hardest they’ve ever been hit.

Trailing by 11 at the half, the Knicks outscored Toronto 41-10 in the third quarter, which included a 28-0 run. None of what you just read was hyperbole or a misprint. They literally outscored the Raptors by 31 in the quarter and led by 20 after the third quarter.

Before I get to the history, here’s the best part: Of the nine who played in the quarter, all but one (Jarrett Jack) scored. The reason Jack didn’t score? He never took a shot. But he did offer two assists and a steal.

Jarrett is a true friend of the crown.


The group recorded 11 assists on 16 field goals in the quarter. They also held the Raptors to just one field goal in the quarter and scored 14 points off eight turnovers.

Ball movement and defense? At one point, Clyde left the broadcast table and tried to check into the game. He thought it was 1970.

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Speaking of history, here’s what we’ve got for you:

— The 28 straight points scored by the Knicks was the most consecutive points scored in a game in franchise history. The previous mark was 24 straight, scored in the third quarter against the Pacers on Nov. 15, 2003. They lost that game 95-94 and a 38-year-old Reggie Miller was a big reason why.

— The 31-point differential in the quarter is the largest in the recorded history of the franchise (since 1954-55), according to The Knicks had a 30-point differential against the San Diego Clippers on Jan. 3, 1980, when they outscored the Clips 42-12 in the first quarter (they won the game 138-101).

— For the record, the Knicks missed the NBA record for point differential in a quarter by just five points. The Lakers own the record with a +36 against the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 4, 1987. Believe it or not, the Lakers outscored the Kings 40-4 in the first quarter of that game. They won it 128-92.

— Golden State outscored the 76ers by 32 in the third quarter last Saturday en route to a comeback win. That performance was even more dramatic when you consider the Warriors trailed by 22 at the half.

2. Is Tim Hardaway Jr. underpaid?

Over the last 13 games, he’s averaging 21.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 46% from the field. In his 274 minutes on the court, the Knicks are +43.

At $16 million, that’s pretty good bang for the buck in today’s NBA.

He put up a career-high 38 points in a scoring matchup against one of the NBA’s best two guards in DeMar DeRozan. Tim didn’t have to guard DeRo often — that was up to Courtney Lee — but he did provide a point-for-point cover in the first half when the Raptors had an easy time with their offense.

Beyond the numbers, you’re seeing Hardaway Jr. having a great impact on the team from a leadership standpoint.

“I love his intensity,” Jeff Hornacek said. “He’s an intense person out there — sometimes maybe too much — but it’s all about winning.”

Timmy’s performance against the Raptors was an all-timer. Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders tells us that Hardaway joined an elite list of former Knicks to put up 38 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in a single game. The only others to do it in the last 50 years: Patrick Ewing, Bernard King, and Walt Frazier.

When you’re included in that company, you know you’ve done something significant.

3. I remember last season how often I would watch Hornacek’s post-game press conferences and see the angst on his face when talking about his team. How he would question their desire to defend and at one point, you may remember, he suggested maybe they weren’t in good enough condition to defend for 48 minutes.

But this season, he is practically beaming when he talks about his team. Even after the heartbreaking loss to the Cavs, Hornacek was proud of the effort they gave. This team has won six games in which they trailed by double figures.

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The resiliency is seen in the aforementioned defense. When last year he questioned their physical ability to defend, this year he talks about how tired the players are after a game. “And you’re supposed to be tired,” he adds.

We wrote after Monday’s game against the Clippers about the timeout in that second quarter when everyone was mad at each other, and he tore into them for playing selfishly. The responded with a 14-0 run and took control of the game. Against the Raptors, he got into them at halftime about a lackluster defense that allowed 10 threes and 59 points.

The result was the most prolific quarter in franchise history.

“We just challenged them at halftime to get up and get after guys and put pressure, make nothing easy,” Hornacek said, “and they responded in that third quarter. They were great.”

He absolutely loves this team.

4. Through the years of trying to build and rebuild a competitive roster since the end of the Ewing Era, one critical element that has been a staple of the past success of this franchise was often omitted. But while the NBA is a league built on stars and marquee names, in New York you’ve got to give the people what they really want:

(say it with me)

(clap clap)

The Knicks were again exposed in defending the three-point shot in that first half (the Raptors made 10 of 23), but the effort in that third quarter was stifling (1 for 7). They also managed to shut down DeRozan in the second half after the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week had 18 points in the first half.

So despite the three-point concerns — and opposing teams are definitely aware of it — the Knicks do rank among the top defensive teams in the league. They’re allowing 103.4 points per game, which is the 9th lowest in the league and rank 7th in Defensive FG% (43.8%), even though they’re allowing teams to shoot 37.3% from downtown, which is 21st in the NBA.

5. So here we are at Game No. 17 and the Knicks — a team that Vegas set the over/under at 29.5 wins on the season — are at 10 wins. It’s an encouraging start, for sure, but if you think my 20-point win stat from the last game blew your mind, wait until you read this.

This is only the second time in 18 years the Knicks have earned at least 10 wins in their first 17 games. The only other time was a 13-4 start in 2012-13. That season resulted in 54 wins.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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