Back at Madison Square Garden for the Knicks hosting the Magic. I get here an hour early because there is something special about being in this arena. Plus I like to watch the teams warm-up prior to the game.As I walk to the press area I find that so many tourists are here, impeding my path as they walk slowly to their seats, lost. Can't they see us regulars are in a rush? First on court is Mr Big Shot, Chauncey Billups. The Knicks are 1-5 since his return and it will be upon him to help the Big Two to turn this ship around. He's got such a smooth stroke, not in that Ray Allen kind of way but just as effective.
After Chauncey is done Garden favorite Amar'e Stoudemire begins his shooting. There is no doubt this is his team, his city. Crowd loves him. The ball boy begins throwing balls to Amar'e to shoot as he casually goes around the key shooting three's. He's shot about 20 of them and made a good 13. Adding a new dimension to his game perhaps? Even his coach Mike D'Antoni would have fits if he did that in games.
SIDENOTE : I want to work covering Knicks basketball. But I digress.
Getting ready for tip-off and the announcer just reminded the crowd that the home team will be wearing 'Nueva York' jersey's for Nocha Latina. Following Monday night where the home team wore their road jersey's at home does anyone actually remember when teams actually wore the jersey's they were supposed to?
Spike Lee must be the greatest celebrity fan ever. He's here over half an hour from tip-off. Eating dinner courtside. You won't see Jack doing that in LA. He even walked all the way over to the Magic bench to give Patrick Ewing a pound.
Game is about to start but my first order of business is to find out who the smoking hot female reporter sitting two seats down from me is. Wow!
– Knicks may be at a disadvantage with size but all their shots are jump shots in the first four minutes. Need to get some penetration.
– Mike D'Antoni said in today's New York Post that it wasn't the offense that was lacking during the slump, it was the offense. Knicks have 4 points in the first 5 minutes so far.
– Knicks shooting not in rhythm. D'Antoni has seen enough, timeout 5:46 left, Orlando lead 15-7.
– Aretha Franklin in the crowd tonight.
– Continuing the great line of number 3's for the Knicks (sarcasm), Shawne Williams enters the game. Dishes off to Carmelo for his first points of the night. Knicks on a 7-4 run. Trail 14-19
– Surprising that with such a size dominance the Magic don't give the ball to Howard everytime down the floor. Will live and die by that 3 point shot.
– 3 point shooting keeping New York in it right now. 4/6 for the quarter. Timeout 1:28 left Magic 26, Neuva York 20
– First quarter ends with a Knick turnover. Trail 25-28
Carmelo's wife LaLa now does courtside reports for New York. Well, she did want the bigger market of the Big Apple to showcase her acting.
– Turkoglu has been ineffective so far. Knicks won't allow him to get in his game.
– Former Knick great Bernard King is in the building.
– Gilbert Arenas enters the game. Was a DNP-CD in the first quarter
– Toney Douglas has given the Knicks a spark off the bench. Hit a couple of three's, passing the ball, offensive rebounding. Great energy.
– Douglas drive brings the Knicks within 3. 39-36. Timeout 5:36 left.
– New York beginning to get some points in the paint. Two straight buckets by Turiaf down low.
– Teams are now trading three's. Knicks 8/16 and the Magic are 7/13
Halftime New York lead 59-55 after a buzzer three-pointer by Jameer Nelson.
Melo is getting all his shots within the Knicks offense. Only has taken 5 shots, made 3 of them and has gotten to the line 7 times. Has 14 at the half. Amar'e has 4 and 3. It's the Knicks 'other' players doing the damage.
– Knicks open quarter on 8-4 run. Hitting a variety of shots. Orlando call time. Knick offense looks smooth so far.
– Melo just took his first bad shot of the game. Long three with 20 seconds left on the shot clock.
– New york deviating from the game plan. Bad plays and turnovers let Orlando creep back. 69-66 Knicks, 5:18 left.
– New york aren't moving the ball on the offensive end. Engaging in too many 'hero' plays as Doc Rivers would say.
– Dwight Howard just came out of nowhere for a put back slam. What an athlete.
– Patrick Ewing highlights are shown during a timeout and the Knick legend receives a rousing 30 second ovation from the whole arena.
– Carmelo has made a couple nice passes tonight. Why doesn't he utilise this this facet of his game more?
– Gilbert Arenas struggles continue. Played about 14 minutes for 3 points only. Doesn't look like this trade will pay divedends for Magic. Shadow of his former self
End of three, Magic re-take the lead. 79-78
– Orlando open up the quarter more aggressive. They sense a victory. You get the feeling it'll be another Knick 4th quarter disappearing act.
– Amar'e on the big screen imploring the crowd to make noise. What the Knicks need is to make shot, not noise.
– Magic lead 90-82. Boos from the home crowd who fear another capitulation.
– After only scoring 4 points in the first three quarters, Amar'e has come to life. Realizes he needs to lead by example. It's his team.
– Knicks go triple team Howard, leaving Turkoglu open for a dagger three. 98-90
– New York are falling apart. Attempting too many long bombs. Should be working for a better shot not a home run hit. Still 4 minutes left.
– Carmelo has 9 assists
– Amazing thing is the whole NBA knows Orlando is a three-point shooting team yet the Knicks aren't closing out on the shooters.
-Crowd filing out with 1:24 left. Knicks down 7.
– Final buzzer. 111-99. PLenty of boos for the home side.
As we head to the press conference I'm imagining a livid Mike D'Antoni but he isn't. He understands his stars are tired, in particular Stoudemire. "Amare's tired," Mike D'Antoni said. "We've worn him down a little bit and it showed tonight."
The media clamor into the Knick dressing room for soundbites from Chauncey Billups. A pack of media with microphones and cameras surround Billups and the softly spoken floor general is hard to hear from the back. I decide to make my way to Amar'es locker where a small herd of reporters are already gathering. As more come with cameras I find myelf stuck in the middle as an ESPN camera man attempts to get through. The gracious Lisa Salters says to me to go the front to give the camera man some more room at the back. I gladly oblige although I spend question time with Stoudemire crouching down so said ESPN crew can get some vision. But thanks to Lisa for getting me to the front. My recorder picked everything up loud and clear.
As Amar'e finishes the media rush to get Carmelo who has just dressed out the shower. I manage to get some vision of that which you can see here.
"We just need to relax," Anthony said. "I think it's, we put too much pressure on ourselves. We're losing games that we know we should be winning and we're just putting a lot of pressure on ourselves. I think we're playing too tense out there on the court, everybody just needs to relax. Just have fun."
The Knicks will have their chance again when they host Milwaukee on Friday night. Again, Starting5.com.au will be there.