A thunderous dunk by Iman Shumpert awoke the Knicks and the Garden crowd, and it also gave yet another reminder that he's all the way back from his torn ACL of a year ago.
Shumpert's powerful one-handed dunk in the second quarter was the signature moment of the Knicks' 105-79 Game 2 win over the Pacers Tuesday night.
The second-year small forward looked like a throwback to Michael Jordan or Dominique Wilkins as he came flying through the paint, caught a towering rebound with his extended right arm and threw down a monstrous slam. The reverberations were felt in the roar of the crowd.
"I was trying to make a statement," Shumpert said, and he succeeded by showing that the Knicks have a lot more life left, especially coming off a listless Game 1 loss.
"It was an amazing dunk," Tyson Chandler said. "I think it sparked the crowd and sparked energy from us."
Added Carmelo Anthony, "Shump's dunk was unbelievable, incredible. Nobody saw that coming but him. It got the crowd going, got us going. Our energy picked up after that."
Shumpert had 15 points, shot 7-for-11 from the field, and had six rebounds and three assists. But his all-around positive game surely will be overshadowed by his statement of a dunk.
And that wouldn't have been possible without the missed three-pointer off the back rim by Chris Copeland, which Shumpert said was "the most perfect miss I've had in a long time. It just came off so perfect for me. It was beautiful for me."
In giving Shumpert the chance to make a statement, it also allowed him to show off his hops, proving once again that he's completely recovered from the torn ACL he suffered last April. He admitted that he mentally was affected by his ACL injury during the regular season, not completely trusting his knee to go all out on certain plays. But that uncertainty is long gone.
"If it wasn't for you guys, I would have forgot I tore my ACL, really," he said. "When I play I don't really think about it much unless I see my scar. Right now it's just all about winning games."
And it shows, as Shumpert's dunk came during a second quarter in which he was the most active player on the floor, scoring eight points and playing his usual menacing defense.
"I know I didn't do that as well as I could have during the regular season," Shumpert said of his defense, "so I wanted to turn it up during the playoffs."
And considering what he's meant to the Knicks, everyone appreciates what he's been through to get to this point.
"He has come a long way," coach Mike Woodson said. "That is a tough injury to come back from. He has a lot of pop. He is moving laterally, he is shooting the ball. I can't help but think he is going to continue to roll and get better."