It has been a long time since the Knicks looked like they did last night in a 102–90 win over the Atlanta Hawks. They have won games, some big ones, over the last couple of months, but it has rarely felt smooth, efficient, and relaxing, like it did during those happy days of late November and early December. Last night, it felt like that. Over a good team, no less.
It was just a pretty night all around, starting with those throwback jerseys, which look awfully spiffy. Amar’e Stoudemire scored 23 points and Wilson Chandler had 20, but this was one of those games that everyone played well, everyone contributed. Mike D’Antoni even used a ten-man rotation: Everybody got in but Anthony Randolph and Roger Mason Jr., who, at the All-Star break, still hasn’t hit a three-pointer this season. It was a nice big warm happy evening, the best game the Knicks have played in a while. It also allows the team to head into the All-Star break at two games over .500, which is pleasant, considering how close they were to falling under just a few days ago.
So, there’s the happy part. The sad part? It is certainly possible that last night was the final time a lot of these Knicks will ever play with one another. The next game the Knicks play is February 23, against the Milwaukee Bucks. That also happens to be the night before the trading deadline. Considering how much more press yet another Carmelo rumor is receiving than the Knicks’ actual game last night, the next week will be dominated by talk of taking apart the team that has given the Knicks their first winning record at the break in a decade. It is possible that this Knicks team, the one that has been so fun this season, will no longer exist, any minute now. In that context, last night’s win was almost wistful: If this is a goodbye for some of these guys, it sure was a sweet one.