Francis' Buzzer-Beater Three Gives Knicks Important Victory
Steve Francis has not had the easiest of times since he was acquired by Isiah Thomas. The guard who was once known as 'Stevie Franchise' arrived in New York by way of Orlando at the trading deadline a year ago. A knee injury has hampered his performance and he has missed a lot of time. Francis was also rumored to be on the move recently, either by being dealt or having his contract bought out.
With Jamaal Crawford being out with his own injury, Francis has stepped up and played well. It all came to fruition on Saturday night at Washington, when his three-point shot at the buzzer was the game-winner in a 90-89 victory over the Wizards. Francis then jumped on to the scorer's table and was mobbed by his teammates. He then saw his grandmother, who was seated nearby. Francis grew up in nearby Silver Spring, Maryland and played at the University of Maryland. His family always has a presence when he plays in DC. Grandmother then received a kiss from grandson, and it was a great site to see.
Francis, who finished the game with 26 points and seven rebounds, outscored Wizards' star Gilbert Arenas, who had 25 points. With the victory, the Knicks moved into a tie for the eighth and final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards remain in first place in the South East division with a 34-28 mark, one game better than the defending NBA champion Miami Heat.
The following day, the New Jersey Nets lost at Houston, so currently the Knicks (29-34) are alone for the final spot. And they trail the Indiana Pacers by one half game for the seventh seed. The Knicks are in second place in the Atlantic division, five games behind the Toronto Raptors.
Is it possible that the Knicks could actually make the playoffs? Not only is it possible, but it looks more and more like it is probable. The Nets are on a huge tailspin and have lost five straight games. They still have to finish their current west coast trip, not a good remedy for losing. The Knicks do not have to go out west for the rest of the regular season.
With all of the good fortune the team has had, Knicks' owner James Dolan awarded Isiah Thomas a contract extension on Monday. Terms were not disclosed, but it was for a multi-year deal. With the job that Thomas has done with this group, he has earned it. When Dolan named him head coach in addition to his team president duties, he gave him an ultimatum of showing 'significant progress' or he would be out at the end of the season. Considering how bad this team was last year under Larry Brown, that would seem like a legitimate assumption that Thomas has done so.
Even if the Knickerbockers do not make the post-season, they have played hard for their coach and have earned the respect back from their fans at Madison Square Garden. With the youth they have on their roster, they should only get better down the road.