Madison Square Garden for the local derby between the Nets and the Knicks, the night is tinged with sadness however as it will be my last game at the Mecca on my trip. I've repeated this ad nauseum but I could easily spend a whole season covering the Knicks. They fascinate me. Following a horror run of 6 losses in a row the Knicks finally won against Orlando in overtime the other night. A game I missed mind you because I was at the Lil Wayne concert in Long Island. My run of Knick games without seeing a New York win is still alive. They better win tonight or else I'll have to wait another year for the drought to end. But I digress.
I stick to my usual routine of arriving one hour before tip-off. The only players on the court are Knicks players on both ends. Guess the Nets don't need to shoot prior to the game, they've shown they've got that down pat (sarcasm), Amar'e and Chauncey on one end and seldom used Renaldo Balkman and Anthony Carter down the other. When Amar'e finishes he is literally swarmed by kids on the court asking for autographs. He obliges as many as possible and takes a few photos. That's why he's so loved here. Despite being a Knick for only a short period of time he has fully embraced the team and the city. The feeling is reciprocated by fans. He always gets the loudest ovation during the introductions.
Deron Williams is still questionable, we'll see if he suits up. Without him I really don't see how the Nets could win tonight. They have been talking about exacting revenge on the Knicks for the whole Melo-Drama. Will they have enough firepower?
Renaldo Balkman is now playing a relaxed game of 1 on 1 with a ballboy. The youngster has scored two baskets on the NBA player. No wonder D'Antoni has him riding the pine! Ha!
– Knicks come out to loud cheers.Amazing what a win does. Just two games ago they were being booed. Fickle lot the NYC crowd.
– Spike doesn't seem to be in attendance tonight.
– Tonight's guest DJ is DJ Mode from the Bronx.
– This is actually a nationally televised game. Makes me wonder what other games are on tonight? Surely there is something better for the TV viewers?
– Deron Williams is playing for the Nets. They were probably better off shutting him down, looks like they want to spoil a few playoff teams plans.
– Carmelo should incorporate passing more into his game. Imagine what he could do as a facilitator. Underrated passer. Nice pass to Landry Fields for a deuce.
– Fast paced beginning. Both teams are pushing the tempo. Deron Williams may be able to maintain this breakneck pace, but will Chauncey Billups? He's been looking tired lately.
– Nets lead 9-8 at the first timeout
Celebs in the crowd include QuestLove, the drummer from The Roots and hip hop legend Biz Markie.
– Both Amar'e and Carmelo look active tonight. On offense and defense. Other reporters tell me they played like this against Orlando too. Bodes well for the Knicks.
– Brook Lopez is having his way in the paint. Has 12 of the Nets 23 points.
– For all the Knicks firepower offensively they are still a jumpshooting team. No traditional interior presence. Good ball movement though leads to a Melo three. 23-21 Nets. Anthony has 5 points.
– Melo is so good at throwing defenses off balance. A quick stutterstep and crossover had Travis Outlaw on skates. He's called for the foul on Melo.
– Deron Williams just pulled a sick crossover on Shawne Williams and dished off to Kris Humphries for a dunk. Dude has sick handle.
– Carmelo is so gifted offensively. He's making an effort on D tonight as well. Has a well rounded line of 9 points, 4 assists and 2 rebounds at the quarter.
End of One, Nets lead 36-30
– Bill Walker almost pulled off one of the great dunks. Driving baseline on Johan Petro, elevated but couldn't finish. Gets fouled and misses both shots.
– Deron Williams is one of the few point guards you have to double team in the post. Combination of size, strength and quickness makes him a tough cover. This time finds an open Jordan Farmar for an open three but the Nets are called for a three-second violation.
– Knicks are getting beat down on the offensive boards. Time-out D'Antoni. NY down 10. Faint boos can be heard. What did I say about fickle fans?
– If there is one thing Deron Williams does better than any other PG is run the pick and roll. Nets are running them everytime down the floor. Knicks can't defend it. Nets are either scoring or getting to the line.
– Knicks are down 16 on a Farmar drive and a foul. This is terrible, 34-50 and getting slaughtered in points in the paint.
– New York have been fading out lately after good starts. tired legs?
– You're not gonna win too many games shooting 20% from three point range.
– Despite being pounded on the boards (17-30) and second chance points (6-18) Knicks are only down 10 at halftime. 68-58. Gonna need something special. Is my Knicks curse continuing?
– Carmelo has the Knicks first 5 points of the second half. Incidentally he didn't have any assists in the second quarter. Was noticeable because his teammates weren't involved.
– New York open the third quarter on a 10-3 run. Are within 3. Avery Johnson has seen enough. Time-out, 71-68.
– Deron Williams will flirt with a triple double tonight. Has 12,8 and 5 rebounds so far. Just scored two three's, and assisted on another as the Nets extend the lead back to 10. 84-74.
– Melo has 15 in the third quarter alone so far. Has 32 for the game. Is showing us the entire repertoire.
– Is it me or is Chauncey just jacking up bad three's?
– On the back of Carmelo's 20 points the Knicks close the margin to one at the end of three. 92-91. We have a ball game.
LADIES AND GENTS, JAY Z IS IN THE BUILDING!!!!! Why haven't I noticed this earlier?? OK, mancrush time over….back to the game.
– This one is now neck and neck. Teams are trading buckets. 99-99 at the first time-out of the quarter.
– I tell no word of a lie when I say that Jay Z's watch is shining all the way to the press box.
– Three consecutive buckets by Sheldon Williams forces New Jersey to call time. Yes, you just read that correctly. Sheldon Williams. 105-100 NY.
– New jersey finally double teaming Melo but he finds the open Anthony Carter for a layup.
– Billups has a quiet 30 tonight. Doesn't seem like it though.
– This is gonna go to the wire. Nets ball, 8.3 seconds left down by 2. 118-116.
– D.Will gets a good look at the basket but misses and the Knicks win 120-116. The curse is broken!!!
Heading down to the locker rooms's I catch a glimpse of a very pretty young lady who happens to be R'n'B singer Ciara. She is good friends with Mrs Anthony, LaLa and is rumoured to be dating Amar'e Stoudemire. Very pretty, but I mentioned that right? Anyway I finally get to hear a relieved Mike D'Antoni talk about a Knick win. He concedes the franchise still has things to work on but is happy with a come from behind win.
I head to the Nets locker rooms for a brief listen to what Deron Williams has to say, I sneak some footage which you can see here. Then it's off to the victorious Knick rooms where I am pushed out of the way buy a frenzied media trying to get a Carmelo soundbite. I can't get footage but Melo who finished with 39 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists, stresses this was the game they needed to win.
"It feels good, especially right now, the time that it's happening. Must-win situations, games that we really need coming down the stretch, getting into the playoffs, it's almost perfect timing for me to get into a groove like that."
That's the end of Starting5's Madison Square Garden experience, one final game on the journey at New Jersey on Sunday night for the Miami Heat's visit which we will hope to be blogging live from pending the WiFi at the arena. Be sure to stay logged onto Starting5.com.au