Knicks Trip LeBron, Soar Past Hawks

By Jerald LeVon Hoover
Updated: November 24, 2004

NEW YORK – After just ten games the New York Knicks seem to be hitting a certain stride that produces what’s known as a ‘dangerous team.’ Coach Lenny Wilkens said, “I think we’re moving in the right direction. I like the intensity we’re coming out with now. The defense is getting better.” This kind of confidence results in teams not wanting to come to The Garden. Those of course happened more frequently in the Patrick Ewing, Anthony Mason, Charles Oakley and John Starks and Greg Anthony days.

This team however, is built more in the realm of athleticism and speed mixed in with a lot of (extra) passing and jump shooting. But, now defense and “trust” as the Knicks call it is becoming more of a battle cry. All of this and to think that Coach Wilkens added, “We’re still learning about the defense and rotation.” If Knicks president Isiah Thomas can be a little patient unless there’s a deal that absolutely blows him away (maybe a Tim Thomas for Vince Carter…yeah, I know I’m asking for a bit too much), the Knicks can, if all stay healthy, not only end up winning the division but also be a major factor in the weakling Eastern Conference. He should be happy with he sees, but you never know.

The Knicks by the way they’ve played of late have erased the horrible memory of their disastrous opening night debacle against the Celtics. The 34 point massacre that led to a crescendo of boos from the disappointed fans in attendance that night. Those boos have not been heard save for whenever small forward Tim Thomas, whose play has be putrid at best has his hands on the ball. Thomas is even booed if he misses a foul shout. That’s a first in my memory.

What Thomas seems to need to do is simply just to “bring it” ala the way that reserve forward, Jerome Williams and fellow starter, Kurt Thomas does, each and every night. Coach Wilkens said on behalf of Kurt, “[He] is like the glue for us. He’s been solid throughout camp. If you want an example of a guy who comes to work every night and every practice, it’s Kurt. He stepped up huge for us. He’s doing a terrific job.”

Sometimes, there’s a perception by fans that you don’t care by aloofness in body language or no contrition in speaking with regard to a slump or bad game or two. With those factors in hand, you’ll less liable to receive a break from the paying customers. Tim Thomas needs a solid couple of 20-point, double digit rebound and solid defensive games to get his confidence back and the fans off of his back.

The Knicks however took care of the business they were supposed to take care of as they rendered the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James unspectacular with a nice game plan and good defense. The Knicks ran the bigger and stronger, Tim Thomas at him and also used Penny Hardaway on him to make him work on defense.

The Atlanta Hawks are just a bad bad team. The problems with the Hawks are that they play to a sparse home crowd, which constitutes to them not having a real home court advantage. Usually when there is a sell out at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta is because the Atlantians are there to see the opposing teams biggest stars, ala, Shaq, Kobe, LeBron and Carmello.

GAME NOTES: The Knicks’ 98-88 victory over the Cavs snapped a five game losing streak dating back to March 4, 2003. Stephan Marbury led the team with 10 assists. He has led the team in assists all season. Marbury has now hit his last 21 free throws dating back to November 13, 2004. Kurt Thomas recorded his fourth point-rebound double-double of the season. The Knicks post a 3-0 record when leading at halftime. Coach Wilkens is now 1,319-1,138. LeBron James was one rebound shy of his first career triple double; he finished the game with 13 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.

GAME NOTES: The Knicks’ 5-5 record now renders them in first place in the Atlantic Division. With this 104-88 victory over the Hawks the Knicks have won four straight games at home. This is also the second straight team the Knicks have held to 88 points. Marbury again led the team in assists with 11, the tenth time he’s done so this season. Starting center Nazr Mohammad’s player of the game award is his second of the season. He led the team with 18 points and 14 rebounds.