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The Knicks Find Reasons to Keep You Watching (Not That You Need Them)

Can we talk for a moment about the crowds at Madison Square Garden this season? As dreary as the play on the court has been this year — as it's been pretty much every month other than December — and no matter how obviously the front office threw in the proverbial towel, the crowds continue to flock to MSG despite the second-highest ticket prices in all of basketball. More fans have gone to Knicks home games than any other in the sport this year. Isn't that amazing? Doesn't that speak to just how desperate the city is for the Knicks to be relevant again? New York is waiting and pleading, Knicks. Anyway: Last night was one of those nights when fans' endless faith was rewarded.

The Knicks improbably over came a 12–0 deficit and beat the Nuggets 109–104 last night in front of a rollicking Garden. Before the game, Danilo Gallinari volunteered to guard All-World forward Carmelo Anthony and then spent most of the game jawing with him ... and ultimately beating him. What was most impressive about their battle was how much respect they clearly had for each other: Knicks fans might not yet consider Gallinari among the NBA upper tier, but, when he's healthy, his opponents surely do. Said Anthony: "It was just friendly. Believe me it was just friendly. I was just competing. I like him. I like him a lot. I like him as a player and as a person. He's a nice person."

Toney Douglas hit a key jumper in the fourth to clinch the victory over Denver, ostensibly considered one of the primary challengers to the Lakers in the Western Conference. Both teams will forget this game, but the Garden felt like a playoff atmosphere again. It has felt like that often this season, even when the on-court play was far from playoff quality. Imagine what it's going to be like if there's an actual playoff game at some point.


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Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters