As the clock was winding down, there were smiles on the Knicks and players hugging each other. Guys on the bench were laughing and raising their arms. It's been a long time since the Knicks have done any of that.
They won for the first time in more than a month and for the first time at home in almost two months. The Knicks' franchise-worst 16-game losing streak is over. It ended Monday with their 99-92 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.
"It feels good," Carmelo Anthony said. "It's a great feeling any time you can get a win. It's good to experience that feeling once again."
The Knicks' previous win was Dec. 12. Their previous home win was Nov. 22. They're only 6-36, but they fought hard to close this one out and received a standing ovation from the Garden crowd.
Anthony, playing his first home game since Christmas because of his left knee problem, finished with 24 points and nine rebounds and had the biggest assist of the night. After the Knicks' 15-point third-quarter lead was down to one, Anthony fed Jose Calderon for a corner three-pointer that made it 96-92 with 32.7 seconds left.
"It's definitely emotional when you're losing games," Anthony said. "We're human. We get upset. Today we didn't hang our head. We came in here to fight.
"Hopefully we can get used to this feeling, try to string some games together. It feels good to come in this locker room with a win. It's a different energy, it's a different vibe. I just want my teammates to understand what this feeling is."
Langston Galloway, who signed his second 10-day contract Saturday, had a big game. The 6-2 guard scored 21 points and soared among the big guys to throw down an offensive rebound in the fourth quarter. Amar'e Stoudemire added 14 points off the bench. Tyreke Evans' 23 points led the Pelicans, who were without injured All-Star big man Anthony Davis and guard Jrue Holiday.
"We didn't really talk about how many games we had lost," Derek Fisher said. "We more so talked about that we have to act as if we expected this at some point."
From the opening tip, the Knicks did not look like the team they have been for most of this season. They played with effectiveness and confidence and jumped out to a rare double-digit lead in the first quarter.
The Knicks led 78-63 with under 30 seconds left in the third. But it went down to the wire and the Knicks had to do something they haven't done all season -- make plays down the stretch.
They led 93-88 after an Anthony tip-in with 2:52 left. Evans hit two free throws and a jumper to make it a one-point game with 1:56 to go. Anthony was whistled for an offensive foul, giving the Pelicans the chance to take the lead. But Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson misfired, and Anthony grabbed the rebound and the Knicks called timeout.
The Knicks didn't execute their play out of the huddle but were fortunate to get a foul call just before the shot clock expired. This time on the out-of- bounds play, the Knicks executed perfectly. They got the ball to Anthony, who was doubled up top. He passed it to Calderon in the right corner and he buried the wide-open three, only his second basket in 10 shots.
After misses by Anderson and Gordon, the Knicks and their fans started celebrating.
"It was good," Anthony said. "The fans are going through it. We are going through it. It gets better. I believe that. I'm going to always believe that."