Phil Jackson is the new Messiah at Madison Square Garden. That is at least what James Dolan wants him to be, as the Knicks owner finally realised that his franchise needs a back-breaking personality in its front office if he wants the grand ambitions he harbours for the Knicks to materialise. Jackson will be presented officially at a press conference on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Knicks, who have a 26-40 record, are still in with a shot at the play-offs. They entered the game against Milwaukee tied with Detroit for the 9th place, 3.5 games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the final play-off spot.
They continued their push to try and rescue their season, steamrollering the Bucks, 114-94. The Knicks are now on a six game winning streak, their longest in the season.
For Mike Woodson, the win is another straw he can hold onto. The much-maligned coach has faced job insecurity all season long as his Knicks have hovered somewhere between the abysmal and mediocre, but Woodson has always conducted himself with dignity in the face of severe criticism.
When asked what he thought of Phil Jackson, Woodson was diplomatic as ever saying that Jackson is ‘a great basketball mind’ and would be ‘a plus’ for the Knicks. Jackson has been rumoured to eye a more experienced coach for next season.
Ironically, the Knicks have been playing relatively well by their standards. Their last five wins did came against sub 0.500 teams, with the exception of Minnesota. But they recorded 114.2 points on average and shot 50 percent from the field.
The Bucks had a record of 13-52 going into the game. The lone highlight of their season has been the rise of 19-year old rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo, whom they picked up at a high school in Athens. But the Greek prodigy could not stop the Knicks’ onslaught.
Anthony, yet again, led the Knicks with 24 points; Raymond Felton was positive, both defensively and offensively, and Stoudemire put in a trademark gritty performance. Tim Hardaway is fast becoming a crowd favourite with his dynamic and energetic play. He scored 20 points.
The Knicks demonstrated control throughout the game. The Bucks’ resistance was non-existent. By halftime the game was no longer a contest. The Knicks scored 60 points, shooting 56.4 percent from the field. They led by 18 points. Woodson decided to rest Anthony Carmelo in the last quarter.
Woodson looked a little more relaxed courtside. At times he even produced a meek smile.
The Knicks still have their backs against the wall with only fifteen games left to salvage their season. The Garden will only host five of those games. If the Knicks can show their mettle in the daunting away trip to the West Coast this week, with tricky games at Phoenix and Golden State, Phil Jackson might well consider to keep Woodson for the next season.