Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — Saturday was quite a day for Steve Novak and his alma mater at Madison Square Garden.
Hours after coach Buzz Williams and Marquette stunned St. John’s, 69-67, in overtime on an acrobatic, last-second driving layup by Vander Blue, Novak scored a season-high 20 points to help the Knicks crush the Utah Jazz, 113-84.
“It’s been a good day in the Garden, hasn’t it?” Novak said with a smile. “The Marquette boys got a share of the Big East title. I’m so proud of them, they’ve been playing unbelievable…It was good to see those guys get the win.”
The last time Marquette won a share of the Big East title? Novak’s senior season in 2005-06, Marquette’s first year in the Big East.
(For Video Highlights of the Marquette-St. John’s game, see below.)
Following the Marquette win, Novak and the Knicks (38-22) learned that Amar’e Stoudemire would miss six weeks with a right knee procedure. The NBA playoffs begin six weeks from today, April 20.
But even without Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony (day-to-day with a stiff knee), the team moved and shared the ball well en route to their third win in four nights before they head out on a five-game West Coast swing.
Novak went 7-of-12 from the field, showing some athleticism by putting the ball on the floor and taking it to the basket, as well going 5-of-10 from the arc.
J.R. Smith added 24 points, hitting 4-of-8 from deep.
Without Stoudemire and Anthony, there was more room for Novak and Smith to work on the perimeter.
“I know my game pretty well at this point,” Novak said. “I know that shooting the ball is my role, is what I’m supposed to do. I think tonight because there were more touches and there was more open room to do those kinds of things, that did open up.”
Novak said the team was able to “rally” despite the bad news about Stoudemire.
“More than anything you feel for Amar’e because he’s worked so hard to get back and he’s playing great,” Novak said. “But then I think you kind of rally together and you say, ‘Look, it’s time to go out there,’ which is what we get paid to do. We gotta go play and win at home.”
While Marquette will be the No. 3 seed at the last Big East Tournament featuring Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Louisville, the Knicks will head out on a five-game West Coast swing beginning Monday night at Golden State.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson said he’d be happy going at least 3-2 on the trip.
“If we come back over .500 I’m happy,” Woodson said. “A successful road trip. We win them all, then I’m really happy so we’ll see what happens.”
Said Novak: “We’ve talked a lot about this trip leading up. We’ve known it’s coming. This whole month is not very gentle, so we know we gotta go out there and play well.
“Obviously, things have changed now that Amar’e’s out as well. Hopefully, we’ll get Melo back soon but we’ll be focused going into it, so it’s the end of the year stretch and these games are important.”
**For Video, Notes and Quotes from NBA.com, click here.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.