I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Madison Square Garden is my favorite place to watch basketball. The first time I’d been there was in the summer of 2003 when I was swindled by a scalper who sold me a fake New York Liberty ticket. Fortunately, a group of ladies had a soft spot in their heart for a naïve guy from Utah and gave me their spare ticket in exchange that I buy them a few beers. The second time was in 2006, where I caught a Knicks/Nuggets game that ended with the crowd chanting “Fire Isiah.” And the last time I went to a Knicks game at the Garden was last fall, which also coincidently ended with the crowd chanting “Fire Isiah.”
Last night was the first time I saw a game at the Garden as a member of Dime Magazine. I’d been credentialed to many games before in other cities, but this time was definitely more exciting. After getting a Circus Circus caliber turkey and stuffing dinner from the media room, I made my way to the Sixers locker room an hour or so before tipoff. With Elton Brand, Thaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala nowhere to be found, I made my way to Jrue Holiday’s locker where I fired a few questions off to him.
Dime: Ever since the college year ended, what have you added or improved to your game?
Jrue Holiday: Definitely my jump shot. I’ve been real consistent with it. And I’ve just been trying to attack the rim a lot more.
Dime: How do you think you’ve played so far this preseason and training camp?
JH: I think I’ve played well. Coach definitely has confidence in me to play the point guard position and all that comes with that. They put me out there as a scorer and a passer so I’m just trying to do what they tell me.
Dime: People are looking to you and Lou Williams to replace the void left by Andre Miller. Do you feel the pressure to live up to the expectations?
JH: No, I’m just going to try to go out there and have fun. On a serious note, cut back on the turnovers and just trying to make an impact.
Dime: Being from California, how are you adjusting to life on the East Coast so far?
JH: It’s a lot different. We really haven’t got to all that cold yet, so it hasn’t been too much adjusting. But you know I’m wearing jeans, sweats and nice jackets to keep me warm.
Dime: What about the adjusting on the court. How has the pace changed from the Pac 10?
JH: It’s pretty much the same. It’s the up and down tempo. Washington, SC, Arizona – they’re really up and down like that. That’s the kind of team we are, we’re up and down.
Dime: Were you surprised you slipped so late to the Sixers? Did you think you were going to be a lottery pick?
JH: I mean I heard lottery, that’s why I was there in the green room. But I’m really excited to be here.
Dime: Who are you looking forward to playing this year?
JH: The Lakers. It’s the first time I get to go home and play in front of everybody.
After I talked with Holiday and got a couple of other interviews from guys, I headed towards my seat behind the basket. The aura of the Garden, Willis Reed, Patrick Ewing and John Starks quickly disappeared as soon as the ref threw the ball up. The game, honestly was pretty sloppy and at a lot of times boring. The Garden wasn’t even half-full, but at the same time it is the preseason. Here are some observations from the game:
-The Knicks have talked about improving their defense, but they looked terrible on that end. The Sixers got so many transition buckets, it looked like a pick-up game at times.
-Thaddeus Young looked really good out there. He was filling in the lanes well and was knocking down jumpers. Wasn’t sure if he improved over the summer or whether it was just the Knicks’ defense.
-Elton Brand’s knee looked good. Brand was moving well and even got a nice put-back dunk in the second quarter.
-Larry Hughes shoots way too much.
-Nate Robinson was well, Nate Robinson. A year older and he’s still jawing at officials and opposing players. I think he said recently that his goal was to get four technicals all season. He got one last night, does that count?
-Where was Eddy Curry? I know he’s been hurt, but no sign of him in the locker room or in street clothes on the Knicks bench.
-Lou Williams struggled running the offense and with his shot. But to his credit, he had a couple of good passes in transition and some crafty penetration moves.
-Celeb sightings: Some guy from “Sex and the City” and Kevin Bacon. I spent half the third quarter trying to figure out what movies he’s been in other than “The Air Up There” (Jimmy Dolan shake and bake), “Footloose” and “Hollow Man”.
The Sixers ended up winning 93-85, improving their preseason record to a perfect 4-0. The Knicks now fall to 1-2 in the preseason.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DIMEMag.
Follow Gerald Narciso on Twitter at @Gerald_Narciso.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.