The Melo-Phil Jackson soap opera dominated the Knicks' day. Then Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah were ruled out before their game against the Boston Celtics with news that they would both undergo MRIs on Thursday.
The outlook for Jeff Hornacek's team was about as bleak as a Charley Rosen report card on Carmelo. But then the unexpected happened: Derrick Rose delivered perhaps his best performance as a Knick, several unheralded players came up with some of their best outings and the Knicks pulled out arguably one of their best wins of the season considering the circumstances.
After entering the night having lost 11 of their past 13 games, the Knicks showed they still have some life left in them, stunning the Celtics 117-106 before a frustrated TD Garden crowd.
"It was good to know that we were able to kind of put everything to the side, leave all of that stuff outside the locker room," Anthony said of the drama gripping the Knicks this week. "And when we got on the basketball court, we were able to just focus in on playing basketball."
No one could have seen this coming. The Knicks (19-24) were playing the third-best team in the East without Porzingis (Achilles), Noah (ankle) and Lance Thomas (fractured orbital bone).
But Rose matched his Knicks-high with 30 points to go with 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks.
Isaiah Thomas was relentless, scoring 39 points for the Celtics. But Rose wasn't far behind with his mid-range game cooking. Rose hit 13 of 24 shots and didn't attempt a single 3-pointer while only going to the line four times.
"Just taking more shots, my teammates were giving me the ball and they wanted me to take the shots or at least try to be aggressive and get people open," Rose said. "Just playing my game, waiting for Coach to call my number just like he did tonight."
This was vintage Rose when the Knicks needed him the most.
"I think people tend to overlook [Rose] just because he's not at the level that he was when he was MVP," Boston's Al Horford said. "But he can still play and he reminded us tonight."
With Anthony making just 5 of 14 shots, Mindaugas Kuzminskas continued to be a pleasant surprise, scoring in double figures for the third time in four games with 17 points. Willy Hernangomez came off the bench and had his best game as a pro with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Courtney Lee flirted with a triple-double with 9 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists off the bench as well.
"We hope this is it," Hornacek said of this sparking a Knicks' run. "The one thing I asked them all before the game, I asked them do you guys believe we still got a chance to get back in the playoffs? They said absolutely. It's good to hear that and then have those guys come out and play like that."
The Knicks (19-24) led the entire game and held off Boston (26-16), which twice came within one point during the fourth quarter. Who knows what will come Thursday, when Porzingis and Noah undergo their MRIs. Perhaps there could be some bad news.
At least for one night, the Knicks found a way to overcome turmoil, and they hope they don't waste this effort against Washington at home on Thursday.
"You hold Carmelo to 13 points and get beat by 11, and get beat by 24 on the glass," Boston coach Brad Stevens said. "That's a hustle thing. ... I thought their effort was tremendous. They played like a team that was desperate and really, really needed that."