What a difference a couple of months make. When LeBron James last rolled into New York, the Knicks looked like they'd thrown in the towel on the 2008-09 season by trading Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph. The crowd treated James to a loving embrace, encouraging him to come join the Knicks in 2010 and the Knicks didn't put up much of a fight in a 119-101 loss.
Since then, though, the Knicks have shown signs of life. That means thinking ahead isn't about 2010, but about this year's playoffs, and it means that the Garden crowd should be a bit less accomodating this time around. There will still be a ton of LeBron jerseys in the crowd, but if the Knikcs can find a way to hang with the Cavs, they haven't in either previous meeting, the fourth quarter should be loud and proud for the home team.
Don't be fooled by the reaction to Kobe Bryant's 61 points the other night. Everyone oohed and aahed during the first three quarters, if you like basketball you ooh and ah at Kobe, but it wasn't until the game got out of hand in the fourth that they started openly rooting for him. Fans appreciate what it means that Bryant scored the most points in the history of this Garden, but they would have been backing the Knicks if they'd been given a reason.
They need a win tonight. With the Celtics on Friday and a three-game West Coast swing before the All-Star break, the Knicks are in danger of eroding the progress they made in January. Knicks fans know that. Unless LeBron makes a run for Kobe's record in a blowout, they won't jump ship again.