There was a first half to that game, distant as it may seem. The Knicks played decent defense and moved the ball well in their first two quarters against the Bucks, but for whatever reason-- the jet stream, I reckon-- barely found the rim with their shots. The Knicks managed to drag Milwaukee down with them in the first quarter, but watched J.J. Redick shoot the Bucks ahead in the now-nightly White Gunner Second Quarter Three-Point Explosion Brought To You By Axe Shower Gel. By the grace of Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith (25 combined first-half points), New York trailed by just nine at halftime despite 34 percent shooting, including 1-12 on perfectly adequate three-point looks.
Like LadyKnick and Ron Burgundy said, things escalated from there in a rapturous, narrative-soaked second half. Either inspired by the moving halftime ceremony for the 1973 championship team or just enabled by a kindlier rim, New York ruled the second half. It was like the knob on the scoring faucet had been tight in the first half, then the Knicks spent halftime struggling to loosen it until it finally budged and-- OH GOD WE'VE LOST CONTROL IT'S WON'T STOP GUSHING THREES THEY'RE EVERYWHERE WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST. Shit got wild.
Melo drilling seven straight shots out of the break, J.R. Smith uncorking a flood of pull-up threes and Raymond Felton canning some tough jumpers amounted to a 25-2 mid-third-quarter run. And these weren't hard-earned buckets; Melo and J.R. took turns peeing casually into Milwaukee's eyes from distance without much effort or movement to speak of. New York spilled 37 points in under nine minutes after managing 36 in the entire first half, finishing with a season-high 42-point third quarter punctuated by Jason Kidd's 59-foot bank shot at the buzzer. The Garden-terrorizing man-eel they call Brandon Jennings did his best to retaliate, but the tide had irrevocably turned. Melo and J.R. were too hot and the pick-and-roll-- featuring, at long last, the recuperating Tyson Chandler-- was too potent in their absence for Milwaukee to ever really threaten again.
I'm going to save my individual notes for a Leftover post tomorrow (feel free to pass along .gifs and videos as well. There were definitely .gif-worthy moments), but I'll leave you with a standings update: Tonight was a success pretty much across the board. The Pacers lost to the Thunder, giving the Knicks a game-and-a-half cushion on their second-place seeding (though they, too, have to play Oklahoma City on Sunday). And if you're of the mind that the Bulls are best avoided, Chicago won and Atlanta lost, giving the Bulls a full game's lead on the Hawks for fifth place. The Knicks are currently matched up with the Celtics in a playoff bracket, but if they were to slide to third, they'd end up facing Atlanta. For the time being.
'Twas a wonderful night and, after an ugly start, a fitting second-half spectacle for the champions in attendance. Glad y'all could join me for this eleventh straight win. more tomorrow!