It was as if 11 months of enthusiastic fervor had been unleashed in one night at the Garden.
A lively and noisy crowd of 2,000 cheered the Knicks, booed the Warriors and booed umpires Tuesday night. But in the end, the first Garden crowd of the season – which a team spokesperson called a sold out – could only do so much and the Warriors’ talent won out.
Golden State beat the Knicks in the second half for a 114-106 victory. Stephen Curry contributed 37 points and Draymond Green was all over the court in a defensive gem.
Green had new All-Star Julius Randle fight from the field while racking up 11 assists, two steals and a block. Randle finished with 25 points on 8-of-21 shooting and was ejected with 17.5 seconds remaining after retaking his second technique.
In fact, the Knicks were frustrated afterward, with coach Tom Thibodeau and Derrick Rose each disagreeing with the Knicks’ lack of decisions in the way, perhaps causing them to shoot just 39 percent.
“Sometimes you get calls, sometimes you don’t,” Thibodeau said. “It seemed that there was a lot of contact in our units and we did not receive the calls. We have to deal with it, yeah. ”
Meanwhile, RJ Barrett had a rough night, going 1-of-9 for four points and missing a key free throw with 1:26 to play.
“Obviously we didn’t play well,” Thibodeau said. “They played very well. [Curry’s] the shots make up a lot of his offense and Draymond is great in terms of making decisions so he stretches you pretty well. ”
The crowd was more grumpy when Barrett was called for a foul on a Kelly Oubre who was driving with 59.8 seconds left.
Thibodeau lost the challenge, further enraging the Garden faithful. Losing the challenge also irritated Thibodeau.
“I didn’t think there was a fault,” Thibodeau said. “They obviously felt differently. That was my point of view, if that was a foul, there were several others that were also fouls that were not penalized. It can’t be one-way and that’s what you’re looking for. Just look for consistency. “
The night looked like it was going to get special as Randle took the microphone before the start of the “MVP” chants, thanked the essential workers and yelled, “Come on Knicks!” The MVP chants would continue every time he threw free throws.
“From the jump, you could tell they were excited by the way they were cheering for Ju,” Rose said. “You forget how much energy you get and you bounce when the fans are in the building. We hope things keep getting better and they keep letting more fans in. You can tell the city is excited and looking forward to coming to some games. ”
But then Randle’s night ended on a bitter note with his belated expulsion for barking.
“It was difficult,” Randle said. “I think it was really unnecessary. But I leave it at that. But I’m not going to let him dictate how the night goes. I’m more upset about how we lost the game. I feel like I could have done better. ”
During player introductions, the Warriors were booed, just like when one of their players walked to the foul line.
“There were fans booing, which was incredible,” Curry said. “There is no better feeling, I don’t care if it’s 19,000 or 2,000. You love silencing a crowd on the road. “
After Green landed two straight deep shots, fans in the blue seats began chanting “Draaay-mooond.” Everything felt refreshing after nearly two months in a sterile Garden environment featuring computer generated noise.
The enthusiastic fans, who missed the first 14 games, were scattered throughout the arena, many in new Immanuel Quickley or Randle jerseys. Unfortunately for them, Quickley suffered a quiet night (1 of 5, three points).
Seated by the court were 20 socially estranged fans, including former Giant star Justin Tuck.
Team president Leon Rose and his lieutenants had been posted by the court for games without crowds, but were moved behind the baseline Tuesday.
Frustration from the second half, and the umpires, also hit Rose and Senior Vice President William Wesley. The Warriors started the second half on a 22-6 streak.
After Elfrid Payton was called for a questionable foul after undressing Curry, Rose stomped and Wesley angrily shot out of his seat, walking in disgust.
The two top Knicks officials got caught up in the newly charged atmosphere. Knicks owner James Dolan, meanwhile, was not present at his new level 100 seat, probably tucked away in a suite.