Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Knicks Open Home Slate with a Party

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Knicks Open Home Slate with a Party

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- At 7:15 p.m. Saturday, with Madison Square Garden still more than half empty, public address announcer Mike Walczewski intoned, "Now here they are, your New York Knicks." The celebrities were still in the catacombs of the Garden as the latest version of long struggling franchise jogged out of the tunnel and onto the court.

The cheers came from the upper deck and when the roster was introduced a few minutes later there was no memory of the one-sided loss in the season opener or all of the struggles of the preseason off the court. The welcome was unabashed affection, embracing Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee with the best intentions of a first date.

You want it to work out. You want to think that this is the one. And you just don't want to have your heart broken again.

When the group built up an 18-point first-half lead, when Rose was darting to the rim in ways that the point-guard-loving New York crowd hadn't seen in years, and Noah was passing adeptly and drawing offensive fouls, and Kristaps Porzingis was soaring through the air, they could believe that this time it was for real. When the Knicks finished off the 111-104 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, it was love.

"I think all the guys, myself included, are ready to go," coach Jeff Hornacek said before the game.

When all of the players drew wild applause in the introductions the reaction for the coach was muted, which is about as good as it gets for most coaches, particularly ones who lost by 29 in their debut.

"We lost the other night. Now we're at least coming home and playing a home game. Guys want a little redemption from the other night. Hopefully they lay it all out there and we get a win."

First impressions are important, like first dates, first love. And the Knicks provided that in the first half. But they have willingly admitted that there are going to be growing pains with a team that didn't have the five starters spend a minute on the floor together in preseason and had Rose, the point guard, miss nearly all of the exhibition schedule while in a courtroom in Los Angeles. Those struggles were evident even after the start Saturday, even with the Garden crowd full-throated behind them. …

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