One only needs to watch the Knicks play games these days to realize how much influence the Jets are having on the New York area.
Winning easy, is out -- winning by the skin of your teeth in the final moments, is in.
The Knicks led by 16 points in the third quarter against Charlotte on Tuesday night, but slowly handed that lead back to the Bobcats over the final 15 minutes of play. It wasn't until former Bobcat Raymond Felton potted a pair of free throws with 2.1 seconds to play and Steven Jackson missed a heave at the other end that the Knicks could exhale with a 110-107 win.
Four straight wins are always swell, even if they aren't particuarly attractive. They're especially sweet when they come after ugly six-game losing streaks that made you question why you bothered getting your hopes up in the first place.
Rex Ryan never apologizes for his wins, so Mike D'Antoni doesn't have to do it either. And, just as this recent run has all but eliminated "Same Old Jets" from our vocabulary, we're getting close to the point where we no longer have to wonder if these are the "Same Old Knicks."
Landry Fields and Ronny Turiaf are big reasons why we aren't having nightmares about the bad old days anymore. Fields has been a total revelation after getting booed on draft night, offering a pu-pu platter of offense, defense, passing and rebounding to a team that needs all of them from night to night. Tuesday night's game would have turned out much differently if not for the fourth quarter spurt when Fields hit a three, turned a steal into an easy layup and followed a miss with a dunk.
Turiaf's contributions were a bit more expected, although it's unlikely anyone imagined just how popular he'd become in such a short time. Some of that has to do with his beard, to be sure, and some has to do with cornrows so tightly packed that they seem to levitate off the back of his head, but mostly it has to do with a long-standing Garden love for players that work incredibly hard, look ugly doing it and help their teams win.
Turiaf hit all six of his shots on Tuesday night and added a couple of steals and blocks to help the winning effort. His best moment of the night came when he outdueled Gerald Wallace for a rebound and knocked Wallace over in the process. Turiaf moved the ball upcourt and then, with play still going on, turned back and helped Wallace up. It was such a sweet, unexpected moment that you could only smile and appreciate the warmth even if you rued the loss of an extra man on offense.
That warmth extends to the Knicks too, of course, and it has something to do with the good vibes emanating from this team. We've grown accustomed to watching 12 men in the same uniform who shared nothing but the disdain of Knicks fans, but this year's team actually seems to relish playing together.
It's a nice change and, to bring things full circle, another thing linking them to New York's best football outfit.