Consider the final cobwebs that were formed upon the most secluded rafters of Madison Square Garden over the last eight years officially shaken off.
The New York Knicks are winners in the playoffs for the first time since 2013, shaking off a dreadful start to take Game 2 from the Atlanta Hawks, 101-92, on Wednesday night to tie the series.
Derrick Rose led the way with 26 points off the bench while Julius Randle showed flashes of getting his game going after another worrisome start that coincided with the Knicks’ problems.
“Coming in, I just wanted to play as hard as I could and follow my teammates’ footsteps,” Rose said. “I felt like I played sluggish last game.”
It was enough to get past the newest Knicks and Madison Square Garden villain, Trae Young, who followed up a big Game 1 with 30 points on Wednesday night at the world’s most famous arena.
New York was trailing by 13 points at halftime while Randle shot 0-for-6 from the field with just two points, but the switch to Rose in the second half sparked the Knicks and their All-Star.
Randle finished the game shooting 5-for-10 from the field while recording 15 points and 12 rebounds in the win.
Eleven of those points came in the third quarter, including five during the final 6:03 of the frame that saw the Knicks embark on a 15-6 run and take a slim lead into the fourth quarter.
The bulk of Rose’s contributions came in the second and third quarters where he put up 18 of his 26 points. Ten of them came in the third when he started the second half as he and Randle combined for 21 of the Knicks’ 32 points in that period.
“I just wanted to change it up. I felt like we needed to do something different,” Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I wanted to give us a different look and it was a plus.”
The Knicks built a seven-point lead at 88-81 with 8:11 to go in the fourth, but the Hawks would make one final push, going on a 10-3 run to tie the game at 91 with 5:06 remaining.
While Rose only had two points in the final quarter, his seven-foot hook shot put the Knicks ahead for good while a Reggie Bullock three put the home side out of sight as the Hawks would score just one more point in the final five minutes.
“To get that win at the end after everything we went through… scratching and clawing to get there… to get that far and win shows a lot,” Rose said. “It shows fight.”