The Knicks this past season won 54 games and every single one of them were just as important as the next in the standings.
Well, that would be true in the statistical sense, but we all know that a few wins during this past season stood out more than the others.
Whether it was playing short handed against the defending champs on the road or coming back in the fourth down 12 on the road against the future Western Conference Champs, the Knicks had some great wins this year.
The tough part was picking the wins that were the best. But to me, six of the Knicks wins this season stood out more than the other 48 they had this year. You also might notice that five were on the road and the other was a “road” game.
6. December 11th, 2012: Knicks 100, Nets 97
This “rivalry” (can they meet in the playoffs first before we call it a rivalry?) had seen the first game go to the Nets 97-89 in OT. Jay-Z talked trash on Twitter after that game and the Nets fans were crowing about being the best in New York. This time around, the man who did not play in the first game and became their head coach turned things in the Knicks favor.
Carmelo Anthony had 45 points as he tortured the poor soul that is Gerald Wallace, J.R. Smith had 16 off the bench and Jason Kidd’s three pointer with 24 seconds left gave the Knicks the lead for good.
The Knicks actually had a horrendous start, trailing 26-9 early, and had to battle the whole game to even get the lead late. They shot 50% from three, including Kidd going 6-8 from three for 18 points. I know, I also forgot that Kidd used to be able to make shots as a Knick. This was a win that helped to get Avery Johnson fired and continued the Nets funk after their 11-4 start.
When Kidd has his first meeting with the Nets as their Head Coach he should show them this video and just say “Guys, you see how I burned you last year? Lets not let that happen again.”
5. January 24th, 2013: Knicks 89, Celtics 86
This matchup was highly anticipated after the Melo-KG war of words had escalated to a point that Melo was ready to confront KG near the Celtics bus. The Knicks had just lost at home to the Nets and this was the biggest test for them after a horrid 0-3 stretch two weeks earlier against Boston, Indiana and Chicago.
Melo of course did what he does best, score. He led the team with 28 points while Amare Stoudemire came off the bench to add 15 and 9. The key though was that J.R. Smith once again was able to shake off a horrible game and come up with a big shot and solid defense in the fourth quarter. Smith was 3-16 but his only made three gave the Knicks an 89-84 lead and then he forced two turnovers to seal the game.
This game was before injuries hit Boston as Pierce, Rondo and Garnett all played. This game helped send a message that the division was no longer going to belong to the Celtics. It was a heck of a preview for the playoff matchup that would happen later on.
4. April 7th, 2013: Knicks 125, Thunder 120
This game had been circled by plenty of people as the game that would bring to an end the Knicks 11 game winning streak. It was on Sunday afternoon on ABC and each team had plenty to play for in terms of the division and seeding in the playoffs. The winning streak was good but some thought that most of wins came against bad or mediocre teams. Other than a win at home over Memphis, the argument could be made that those who thought that were right.
This win in Oklahoma City was the game that gave the Knicks the confidence at the time that they could win anywhere and at anytime. Westbrook was great and Durant was Durant but Melo once again led the way. He had 36 points and 12 rebounds while Felton (16), Chandler (15), Smith (22) and Jason Kidd (14) helped provide the balanced scoring. To play OKC when they were at their best on the road and win was impressive. It was a shame neither team got a shot to face Miami in the playoffs.
Also when watching this game, you just knew that when Smith hit this shot, the Gods were smiling on the Knicks as they closed in on the Atlantic Division title.
3. March 18th, 2013: Knicks 90, Jazz 83
The Kurt Thomas Game.
This was the final moment in the Knicks career for Kurt and it is one that no fan will ever forget. The Knicks lead in the Atlantic Division was all but gone. Melo, Amar’e and Chandler were injured and not playing. It was the second game of a back to back against a Utah team battling the Lakers for a playoff spot.
Kurt, while dealing with a broken foot, played 27 minutes scoring six points with three rebounds, two assists and three blocks. It was inspiring to watch. It helped end that horrendous West Coast trip losing streak with a win and was the beginning of a 13 game winning streak. J.R. Smith, who was awful in the first half was brilliant in the second half and ended up with 20 points. Felton also came up big with 19 points on 8-12 shooting.
The Knicks actually trailed in this game 60-54 with 4:47 left in the third and outscored Utah 36-23 the rest of the way to secure the win and not let the Nets get close again in the division.
2. November 15th, 2012: Knicks 104, Spurs 100
Tiago Splitter had scored 13 points in a row for the Spurs and helped them build an 89-77 lead with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Knicks undefeated start was on the line and Melo had struggled all game long with his shot. They were not gonna come back to win on the road in San Antonio without Melo scoring. It was nearly impossible to fathom that happening.
But it did.
The Knicks 27-11 run to end the fourth quarter saw them move to 6-0 and Melo scored a grand total of zero of those final 27 points. His play as a decoy while Felton and Kidd lit up the Spurs showed everyone that this team was more than just giving the ball to Melo and letting him do what he wanted. They showed that they could be a team and that Melo could trust them to step up.
This was the first time the Knicks had a test this past season and they showed at the time that when everything is clicking, they could beat anyone. When you consider the Spurs are now one win away from winning the NBA Title and beating the Heat to do it, this win looks a little better.
1. December 6th, 2012: Knicks 112, Heat 92
The starting lineup for this game included Kurt Thomas and Ronnie Brewer. Carmelo Anthony missed this game with a finger injury he got the night before in Charlotte. Amar’e and Iman Shumpert missed the game while recovering from knee injuries and J.R. Smith was only 4-15 for 13 points.
So how in the world did the Knicks come out on National TV and whip the Heat? The made 18 three’s, Raymond Felton was lights out in the 2nd half and Bosh/Wade shot a combined 6-25 for 25 points.
The game was tied 53-53 at halftime before a 30-14 third quarter run, fueled by Felton’s 11 points, helped to put the game away.
This was the second night of a back to back, they won in Charlotte on a Smith buzzer beater the night before, and their best player was out. The Knicks had plenty of excuses to mail this game in. They didn’t, torched the Heat again from three and won going away.
All the things going against them helped to make this win, in my opinion, the best win of the season.