The night started with a video of Phil Jackson talking about what it takes to win, and saying how this could be the start of something "special.'' It certainly didn't look that way on opening night.
No one expected the Knicks to look good playing the triangle right away, but they looked worse than advertised in Derek Fisher's debut as coach. It didn't take their fans too long to voice their displeasure.
The Knicks suffered a 104-80 beating at the hands of the Bulls Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. Midway through the first quarter, the fans booed with the Knicks playing sloppily on both ends of the floor.
The Bulls shot 11-for-16 in the third, and ran away in a game they took control of early in the second quarter. The Knicks looked lost in the triangle, and displayed the kind of defense that brought back memories of last season's 37-45 team. Chicago led by 35 in the fourth.
It won't get any easier tonight. The Knicks are in Cleveland in LeBron James' first game back with the Cavaliers.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 14 points, but shot only 5-for-13 and didn't play in the fourth quarter. Amar'e Stoudemire started at power forward and had 12.
Taj Gibson gave the Knicks fits all night. He came off the bench and scored 22 points, hitting 10 of 12 shots. Pau Gasol, who spurned the Knicks for the Bulls in free agency, added 21 and 11 rebounds. Derrick Rose, playing for the first time since last November, had 13 points and five assists.
The Bulls' bench outscored the Knicks' starters 55-43.
The Knicks have invested more than $200 million in Anthony, Jackson and Fisher. They each got five-year deals, so that's their window to end the Knicks' championship drought. But what they do the next two summers in free agency will determine whether they will accomplish something special.
"It's not about it being my night or anybody in particular on our team,'' Fisher said before the game. "It's our night. It's a new beginning for our basketball team, our organization, and I'm excited about that from a team standpoint.
"It's just kind of another day on the job as far as it goes for me personally.''
Fisher has to hope he doesn't have too many more like this, but it is inevitable that the Knicks will experience serious growing pains. The test will be how they work out of it, and whether some players revert to individual or isolation ball.
Not having Jose Calderon could have contributed to the offensive struggles. Less than an hour before tipoff, the Knicks announced Calderon was out because of the strained right calf that hampered him at the end of the preseason, and Shane Larkin started.
The Knicks got off to a good start. They moved the ball, got people other than Anthony involved, and Stoudemire looked as if he'd taken a page out of his book from five years ago. He scored eight of their first 14 points. The crowd was into it, and the Knicks' bench was alive after a Stoudemire dunk.
But the Knicks' good play didn't last long. Chicago scored the last eight points of the first quarter and started the second by hitting 11 of its first 15 shots. The Knicks had trouble keeping backup point guard Aaron Brooks out of the paint and Gibson off the backboard.
Gibson scored 10 in the second quarter, sparking the Bulls to a 49-34 lead, and they led 53-43 at halftime.