It makes perfect sense that the most exciting Knicks game at the Garden in about four years came in a loss. Not just any loss, but one that should have been crushing: a comfortable lead blown down the stretch, an upper-tier All-Star from the opposing team (Kevin Durant) coldly stomping his foot on the Knicks’ throat at every late opportunity. It should have been a loss that left Knicks fans leaving the building cursing and muttering. But it wasn’t. They were singing and dancing. The Knicks, improbably, have turned thrilling simply by the extracting payroll. This team is fun.
Sure, the Knicks lost, but seeing the new players on display — specifically Tracy McGrady, Sergio Rodriguez, and Eddie House — made it feel like you weren’t watching the Knicks at all. It felt like they’d imported a traveling team, rolled the ball out, and just said, “Have at it.” This is a flawed team, destined to exist only for a couple of months, but boy, what an enjoyable couple of months it might be.
McGrady was the revelation, playing 32 minutes, scoring 26 points, and electrifying the crowd on a regular basis. He actually played more minutes in Saturday’s game than he had all season for the Rockets, which is probably why he was so tired at the end that he missed a couple of free throws that would have clinched the win. Eddie House is such a goofy player to watch — that awkward shot, the arms moving in all directions, the pure improbability of any basket going in that Posting and Toasting’s Seth said inspires a “belly-laugh on literally every make.” And the most important player — certainly the one who’s most likely to be around next season — was Rodriguez, who isn’t quite the scorer you’d like him to be but is ridiculously fun to watch, a combination of speed and passing ability that reminds you just how dreary it has been having Chris Duhon around for two seasons.
It’s a bit silly to fire oneself up about all this, considering how ephemeral it is and how almost all these guys will be gone soon. And certainly, some folks are getting carried away, most notably Frank Isola from the News, who actually claims McGrady is “a better all-around player than Joe Johnson and Chris Bosh.” (Imagine what he’d have said had the Knicks won.) But dammit, we’ll take it. The rest of the Knicks’ season is going to be the equivalent of whippets, a cheap disposable high that’ll vanish almost immediately. But whippets are fun, while they last.