Coming off their worst overall record in 20 years, the New York Knicks were hard-pressed to find fan support at Madison Square Garden at the start of the season. An impressive turnaround there recently has given the home fans plenty to cheer about.
The Knicks close out a three-game homestand on Monday against the struggling Sacramento Kings in the finale of their season series.
New York averaged just 99.1 points per games while dropping 10 of its first 14 at MSG, a stretch that concluded Dec. 16 with a 123-100 loss to Denver including a brawl that resulted in several lengthy suspensions on both sides. Since then, the Knicks have gone 5-1 with three of those wins coming in overtime, and is averaging 113.0 ppg.
With the halfway mark of the season coming up, the Knicks (16-22) are one game behind Atlantic Division co-leaders Toronto and New Jersey after going 23-59 last season.
The Knicks, though, failed in a bid for their longest home win streak in nearly two years after falling to Charlotte 126-110 on Friday. New York won seven in a row at MSG from Feb. 13-March 8, 2005.
“We are mad we lost, but we are not discouraged in any way,” said Eddy Curry, who had 27 points and seven rebounds. “You can’t win every single game. … We know we are a better team than we showed tonight.”
In his last six home games, Curry has shot 63.4 percent (52-of-82) from the field en route to a 22.8 ppg average.
Sacramento (14-20) got a career-high 39 points from Queens, N.Y. native Ron Artest in a 112-100 home win over New York on Jan. 2, but have lost a season-high five in a row since—three of them coming in overtime, including a 115-111 loss to Houston on Saturday.
“We got beat as opposed to beating ourselves. Both teams played well so we were supposed to get beat,” said Artest, who scored 11 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter, and drained a 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds left that sent the game into overtime.
Artest, who starred at St. John’s University, has averaged 15.1 points in eight career games as a pro at MSG, but has never scored more than 24 which came on Jan. 11, 2000 in his first game while with Chicago.
Corliss Williamson came off the bench and set season highs with 30 points and 12 rebounds in the defeat to the Rockets.
“We’re losing a lot of these close games, but it doesn’t matter if it’s by one point or 30 points, we’re still losing,” Sacramento’s John Salmons said. “It’s putting us deeper and deeper in the West (standings).”
The Kings are in 11th place in the Western Conference standings, and in last place in the Pacific Division. They’ve also win two straight at MSG after losing 11 of their last 12 there.