The Knicks, most of the 19,033 fans at the Garden and the people in the area with power and cable TV who were able to watch are glad Hurricane Sandy didn't wipe away Friday night's game.
Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks opened the regular season with an inspiring and resounding 104-84 win over the defending NBA champion Heat in a game that probably ended up being a welcome diversion for some people who needed to take their minds off real life.
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It was the first professional sporting event in New York since Hurricane Sandy struck. The Knicks' regularly scheduled opener Thursday in Brooklyn had been postponed. There had been a spirited debate about whether this game should have been played because of the destruction Sandy caused, but in the end, the Knicks were happy it was.
"Today was something to give New York a couple hours of some peace," Anthony said after scoring 30 points, 16 in the first quarter. "They come to the game, support us and we gave them a good show out there. That's the least we could do."
Anthony addressed the fans before tip-off and thanked them for their support. Then the Knicks held a moment of silence for those who perished because of the storm. Some players said they had mixed emotions about playing but that seeing the packed Garden gave them the boost they needed.
"There are so many emotions because you're hearing all the horror stories going on in the city," Tyson Chandler said. "The last thing you want to do is come out and play a basketball game, to be honest with you.
"But we have a job, and the moment we walked out and saw the fans in the arena, we understood we have an opportunity to shed light and give them a smile for 48 minutes or a couple of hours to take their minds off things."
The Knicks gave the fans something to cheer as they beat the team that eliminated them in the first round of last season's playoffs. In the fourth quarter, loud chants of "Beat the Heat!" filled the Garden.
"Our fans were fantastic,'' Mike Woodson said. "Our fans were in it from the beginning to the end. It says a lot about our city, New York, and the fans who came to support us.''
After starting 6-for-10, Anthony shot 10-for-28 from the field and grabbed 10 rebounds. Steve Novak had 17 points, shooting 5-for-8 from three-point range to lead a 19-for-36 effort by the Knicks. Raymond Felton had 14 points and nine assists and Jason Kidd scored 12. Miami was led by LeBron James with 23 points. Dwyane Wade had a quiet 15.
"We know a lot of lives and a lot of families have been deeply impacted by the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy," Anthony told the fans before the game. "We just want to say thank you for coming out in hard times and supporting our New York Knicks. This is the most important time for the city of New York to come together as one and help rebuild the city."
The Knicks saw this game as a good test to see where they stand against Miami. After going 36-30 last season, they added nine new players, including grizzled veterans Kidd, Kurt Thomas, Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby. They believe they have the depth to beat the Heat in the postseason. But the Knicks knew it was important for them to beat Miami Friday night.
"Before the game, it was difficult," Chandler said. "Then, as we were going out, we're like, we're here, our fans are here and the thing we can do is put a smile on their face by playing hard and representing the city in the right way.''