Remember when the Knicks and Rangers were both relevant, playing on the same night, and you had to flip channels between the two?
Last night was one of those nights, and I can’t remember the last time that has happened.
Phase II of Lin-Sanity – when Amar’e Stoudemire returned to the lineup – got off to a raucous start with Jeremy Lin’s last-second three-pointer that beat the Raptors in Toronto. Lin finished with 27 points.
Meanwhile, on the ice in Boston, Henrik Lundqvist made 42 saves to stone the Bruins as the Rangers beat their main competition in the Eastern Conference, 3-0.
No, it’s not 1994, but it’s the next best thing right now.
The Rangers have been world beaters from the start this season. They lead the Flyers in the Atlantic Division by 10 points, and they’re 9 points ahead of the Bruins in the conference. They trail only the Western Conference’s Redwings, with 80 points, but Detroit has played three more games than New York.
Boston outshot the Rangers, 42-17, last night, but New York blocked 22 shots in front of Lundqvist. And each one hurt. The Rangers, from captain Ryan Callahan on down, are stacked with players who will sacrifice their body for the team.
That’s the type of effort that makes long runs into the Stanley Cup playoffs possible. That’s the type of effort that draws fans to the tube to watch the Rangers on a cold February weeknight.
The Knicks, of course, are on a Lin-Credible roll since Mike D’Antoni turned to his new point guard out of desperation six games ago, all victories.
Some people believe the Knicks coach would have been fired had his club lost to the Nets on Feb. 4. But Lin scored 25 points off the bench to lead the team to victory that night, and the rest has been history. Yes, history. Since the NBA-ABA merger, no one has scored more points in his first five games as a starter than Lin. Shaquille O’Neal previously held the record.
Most of this has happened without Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony in the Knicks’ lineup. Everyone is waiting to see how the two superstars will react to Lin and his style of play when they return. Phase II, or Stoudemire’s return, got underway last night. The Knicks continued to win. Stoudemire scored 21 points after missing the previous four games.
Everyone expects Stoudemire to benefit from Lin’s play at point guard. After all, Stoudemire thrived with Steve Nash, the best in the business, when they played together in Phoenix.
Anthony is another story, however. Call it Phase III.
For now, the Knicks’ No. 1 superstar is saying all the right things. But in Anthony’s case, actions will speak louder than words. The Knicks are winning while the offense runs through Lin. Anthony is used to having the offense run through him.
Something has to give. Ask Knicks fans and they’ll tell you: it hasn’t worked your way, Melo. It’s working now. Get on board.
Phase III is starting soon.