After the Knicks' grueling, homely 89–80 win over the Bucks last night, Madison Square Garden didn't look like a M*A*S*H* unit: It looked like an "After M*A*S*H" unit, the floor littered with body parts, blood, sweat, and Jamie Farr. It was a hideous game to watch, two teams theoretically constructed to succeed on offense (the Bucks moved in this direction with the trade for Monta Ellis) flailing about, punching each other, sprawling all over the place. It was not exactly a game that would strike much fear in the hearts of those who might face the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. But the Knicks, somehow, won a game they had to win. It was great, if you didn't watch it.
It was the sort of game in which Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points, which sounds exciting and put-the-team-on-his-back-ish, but he was 8-for-20 from the field and scored many of his points from the line, where he was 12-for-12. He was hacked a lot, and the Knicks hacked a lot, and both teams turned the ball over like crazy. There were 42 turnovers and 53 free throws shot combined on the night. It was not the most thrilling basketball ever played.
Anthony did step up, though, in a game in which the Knicks were missing both Jeremy Lin (who will be back Wednesday) and Amar'e Stoudemire (who won't; more on this later today). Anthony also tweaked his groin and was limping by the end of the game, which is just great. The key was the defense, which was a pest all night to Bucks stars Ellis and Brandon Jennings, who were a combined 8-for-36 from the field. (Ouch.) If it hadn't been for the lunacy of Mike Dunleavy Jr., who scored 26 points off the bench, the Knicks might have blown away the Bucks.
There's a lot of doom and gloom around the Knicks this morning, because of Stoudemire's injury, but don't underestimate this win. It puts the Knicks back at .500 for the ninth time this year, raises their record to 8-1 under coach Mike Woodson, and puts them two and a half games ahead of the Bucks for the No. 8 playoff spot. They're the same two and a half games behind Philadelphia and Boston for the top spot in the Atlantic Division, and they'll have plenty of opportunities to make up that ground. Last night was a desperately needed win for the Knicks. They absolutely must avoid the disaster of missing the playoffs entirely, and last night went a long way to accomplishing that. Now, about that Amar'e problem ...