Rex Ryan's bunch spent the whole offseason talking about how they were going to kick butts and take names all over the NFL and then got their own butts kicked in emphatic fashion in their biggest game of the season.
Stoudemire spent the offseason talking about how he was going to help lead the Knicks back from the wilderness. His first 22 games in the uniform have done just that.
Stoudemire scored 34 points on Monday night, his fifth straight game with more than 30 points, and once again made the fourth quarter his own by scoring 12 points to help close out the Timberwolves 121-114. His latest big game came hours after he was named the NBA Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks and any wildly premature MVP watch would have to include the begoggled one at the very top of the list.
It didn't look certain that there would be a chance for Stoudemire to perform his heroics in the first quarter. The Wolves made easy shot after easy shot because of insufficient Knicks interior defense, but they couldn't pull away because they weren't much better at stopping the Knicks on the other end.
The game finally turned in the third quarter when the Knicks defense showed up, forcing turnovers on six straight possessions to grab a lead they wouldn't relinquish for the rest of the night.
The good signs keep coming. Shawne Williams continued his rise from 12th man to indispensable shooter by nailing three deep ones. Raymond Felton and Wilson Chandler keep doing what they do and even Danilo Gallinari found his stroke in a big spot. He ignored a wide-open Stoudemire and splashed a three with 49 seconds to play, causing Mike D'Antoni to react like he wanted to slap him, hug him, kick him and kiss him all at once. Gallo was a bit more involved on Monday night, something we'll credit to the facial hair for beginners thing that he's got going on at the moment.
There are those that will point out that the Knicks are beating up on the dregs of the NBA, which is both true and irrelevant. A goodly portion of the NBA is dregs and beating those teams is key for any team with hopes of making the playoffs. The rosiest projections for the Knicks this season had them somewhere around .500. At 13-9, they need to go 28-32 the rest of the way to hit that number.
Actually playing .500 would give them 43 wins, which shows you just how little reason there is to talk bad about any win right now.
Go on and have such conversations, though. They may be filler, but they're filler that come with heady reminders that the Knicks are winning games again.