One of my very favorite Mike D’Antoni quotes came before he coached his first game with the Knicks but after he’d been hired. In October 2008, D’Antoni was asked to respond to claims from Suns then-general manager Steve Kerr that the coach lacked skills at coaching defense. It got D’Antoni’s dander up, and he went off. “First of all, we won  games last year, [61 the year before]. Sixty-[one] times we played better defense than the other team did, that’s for sure, because we scored more points.” That is the fundamental tenet of D’Antoni basketball: If you score more points than the other team, you played better defense than they did, by definition. Never was that philosophy more evident than last night, when the Knicks wiped out the San Antonio Spurs, the team with the best record in the NBA, by playing an almost perfect offensive game.
The Knicks beat the Spurs 128–115 last night, and the carnage was such that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, with the Celtics looming tonight, pulled his starters with three and a half minutes left. The Knicks played the type of game last night that, if you were an alien being with an obsession with basketball but no professional team loyalty, and someone gave you a NBA League Pass subscription, you would wonder why in the world anyone would cheer for anyone other than the Knicks. That was about as much fun as you can have watching a professional basketball team.
It wasn’t a night that injured Danilo Gallinari could have felt particularly necessary watching from the end of the bench. Wilson Chandler had the best game of his life, scoring 31 points on 13-of-19 shootings (with nine rebounds, just for fun). Amar’e Stoudemire came as close as he’s probably going to come to a triple-double, with 28 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. Chandler is benefiting from the double teams that Stoudemire gets, and that was never more clear than tonight. The Spurs were insistent on shutting down Stoudemire, and in attempting that, they left Chandler with space all evening. And they didn’t even stop Stoudemire.
It was an offensive bonanza; it was perfection against a team that was 29–4 coming in. It will also have to hold Knicks fans off for a while. They begin their road trip Friday in Stoudemire’s homecoming game at Phoenix, and they have only two home games in the next three weeks. There can be no better possible way to begin a road trip to the West Coast than by wiping out the West’s best team at home. The Knicks’ playoff odds are at 95.6 percent, but you can forgive them, after a night like last night, of dreaming even bigger.
By the way, in case you thought we forgot it: Clyde’s suit.