One of the little pleasures of this Knicks season has been hearing Mike D'Antoni and his team drop references to the playoffs — and playoff positioning — after certain victories against conference foes. For example, after the Christmas Day win over Chicago, D'Antoni pointed out that with two victories over the Bulls (a team they'll play three times this year), the Knicks now own the tiebreaker between the two teams. Then yesterday, Amar'e Stoudemire called the team's 98–92 victory over Indiana "huge," noting that the Pacers are currently directly behind the Knicks in the Eastern Conference standings.
Stoudemire, as is his custom, turned in another stellar fourth quarter in this one, scoring six of his team's final seven points to help snap a two-game losing streak on a day the Knicks didn't really play their best basketball. (Indiana killed the Knicks on the glass, but, to the credit of the Knicks defense, shot just 37 percent from the field. Said D'Antoni: "It was one of those nights where we had to grind it out." Technically it was one of those days, but his point is still well taken.)
That fourth quarter, however, also saw Danilo Gallinari collide with Brandon Rush, sprain his left knee, and leave the game. He'll have an MRI today, though he says it's "nothing to worry about." (The closing seconds also saw a bizarre sequence in which Ronny Turiaf blocked a Darren Collison shot for his sixth rejection of the day, banged his arm on the glass in the process, couldn't handle an easy pass while he shook his banged-up arm, then grabbed a rebound when the Pacers couldn't convert on the layup.) In any case, it's the Knicks' third straight win at the Garden — all of which, for the record, came against teams currently in playoff position.
And now, just for the hell of it: halftime baby race!