Knicks 151, Pistons 145 (3 OT)

(Channing Frye, draining a jumper at the end of the 2nd overtime and promptly forgetting there was another 5 minutes to play)

I’ll resist the temptation to go hyperbole crazy and tell you Ali/Frazier I and II had nothing on this game. But I don’t think it would be any exaggeration to say tonight’s slugfest at the Garden has been the most hotly contested Knicks game since, well….the last time they were relevant.  Rip Hamilton (51 points) showed no ill-effects from last night’s tough game with the Nets, while on the other side of the ledger, Stephon Marbury scored a season-high 41 points before fouling out, and Eddy Curry delivered an eye-popping 33 (and these days, you no longer have to look twice to make sure that isn’t a typo).

How is it that David Lee — being shoved around by players with far more impressive resumes — pulls down so many crucial rebounds?  How is that the infuriatingly erratic Jamal Crawford connects on so many long-range shots in such (Chris Russo voice here) big spots?  Well, other than at the end of regulation. Save for the Philly debacle, if the Knicks could bottle the sort of tenacity they’ve shown since the The Brawl…Isiah could have it made into his own signature scent, the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for that special work colleague.

To flip the cynical switch for a moment, the Knicks came into tonight on 3 days’ rest, while the Pistons had to tangle with the Nets on Tuesday.  But they all count, and I don’t know very many persons who’d have picked a shorthanded New York squad to go 4-1 after the fight with Denver.

Rip Hamilton had a chance to cut New York’s lead to 148-147 with 13 second remaining, but he was bumped by Renaldo Balkman when driving the lane.  No foul was called, and Hamilton was hit with a technical moments later. Vince Carter knows exactly how you feel, Rip.