Knicks Outlast Celtics in Opening Day Thriller

by Vinny Marino

AP

NEW YORK -  The NBA arrived late, but came stocked with presents to atone.

An electric atmosphere on Christmas morning set the tone for the NBA’s season opener in the mecca of basketball, Madison Square Garden.

A future Hall-of-Famer, Kevin Garnett, missed a shot that would’ve sent the first game of 2011-12 into an extra period after another guy likely headed to Springfield, New York’s Carmelo Anthony, rescued the Knicks from blowing a 17-point first half deficit.

Not to sound like SNL City correspondent, Stefon (Bill Hader plays him, not Stephon Marbury), but this game had it all. A last-second shot, beef between Bill Walker and KG, more swings than any NYC public park that hasn’t seen them all stolen and celebrities — everyone that was anyone.

They were in the building early. Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, Matthew Modine  John Mcenroe, Alicia Keys, Clyde Frazier in leather and all of the other usual suspects. Diddy or Swag or whatever he’s calling himself this hour was in the lobby handing out Ciroc, it was mad.  If you watched the game, the Knicks started solid, faltered in the 2nd quarter, barely showed in the third and rescued the result in the fourth.

Mike D’Antoni went deep into the rotation early with rookies Iman Shumpert and Josh Harrellson seeing early action, not to mention Jared Jeffries and Walker being dusted off. Shumpert shot too much in the first half, working out the nerves by going  2-for-11, throwing up more shots thany any Knick, shockingly even more than Melo.

He’ll have to cool down after being helped into the locker room after a nasty injury that appears to be less severe than it originally looked, with the early diagnosis a sprained MCL that will keep him out for 2-4 weeks. The Knicks will have to rely even more on Toney Douglas and have to hope Mike Bibby can give them something or the NYK training staff can help Baron Davis get back sooner than later.

In the interim, New Yorkers starved for a true contender can console themselves with a key win over the Boston Celtics that saw Garnett leaving the floor screaming expletives and a career-game from Rajon Rondo not winding up being enough. Boston will look for revenge and hopes to get Paul Pierce (heel) back soon, but the first game of the NBA season wound up clad in the holiday colors of orange and blue, not green.