With Jackson Courtside, Red-Hot Knicks Make it Seven Straight • Latino Sports

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With Jackson Courtside, Red-Hot Knicks Make it Seven Straight

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NEW YORK – “Welcome home Phil,” your New York Knicks are 1-0 with you in the building.

Newly minted team president Phil Jackson, who was introduced to the media and the fan base in a press conference Tuesday in the Big Apple, is already rubbing some of his winning pedigree on his latest project. Jackson, who has 11 rings as a head coach and two more as a former Knick legend – the last two titles in franchise history – sat courtside Wednesday night for New York’s 92-86 victory over top-seeded Indiana.

For the Knicks, it is a season-best win streak, and is perhaps the highlight win of their latest spurt, since it comes against the Eastern Conference leaders.

“There’s energy in the city,” said Knicks head coach Mike Woodson of the Jackson hiring. “Bringing Phil back is huge for this franchise, I think.

“But I’ve got to give a lot of credit to those guys in the locker room, too, because again, we’re battling,” Woodson added. “We’ve dug a hole and we’re trying to dig our way out of the hole.”

Carmelo Anthony led the way with 34 points, as the franchise opened the Jackson era in the win column.

“We know we control our destiny right now,” said Anthony, whose team is now four games back of the eighth seed, the final playoff spot in the East. “We pay attention, but we have to focus on us right now.”

Anthony admitted that there’s a new found “attitude and energy” lately that the team “has not had all season long.”

Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire looked most energized. He added 21 points, while center Tyson Chandler hauled in 14 rebounds.

“With a guy like that around it creates a winning mentality, it creates an atmosphere that’s pretty golden and we’ve got to capitalize on that,” Stoudemire said of Jackson, who met with coaches and players earlier Wednesday before taking a seat midcourt, above center court. He received a standing ovation when he was shown on the big screen during a first-quarter timeout as the tron flashed the words, “Welcome home Phil.”

The Knicks defeated Indiana for the first time this season after the Pacers took the first two meetings. In the process, New York beat the team that knocked it out of the playoffs last year.

The Pacers, riding a four-game win streak coming in, would not go quietly. Brooklyn native Lance Stephenson had 21 points and nine boards. Center Roy Hibbert contributed 20 points of his own. Paul George, who started slow, missing six of his first-quarter shots, added 17 points in the loss.

Hibbert scored 14 points in the third quarter and helped the visitors overcome a 16-point deficit before the Knicks countered with an eight-point run to pull ahead, 75-66.

The Pacers would trim the lead to five, but the combination of Anthony and Stoudemire loomed large in the third and fourth.

“In the first half we tried to do it ourselves and only had two assists,” Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said. “In the second half we played much better. Shared the basketball better, we screened better, but we fell short.”

The Knicks will be in Philadelphia Friday and then back home at Madison Square Garden for Cleveland on Sunday.

About Bobby Ciafardini

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