It was as if 11 months of enthusiastic fervor had been unleashed in one night at the Garden.
A lively, loud crowd of 2,000 cheered the Knicks, heckled the Warriors and booed the referees Tuesday night. But in the end, the season’s first Garden crowd — which a team spokesman called a sellout — could only do so much and the Warriors’ talent won out.
Golden State pounded the Knicks in the second half to post a 114-106 victory. Stephen Curry rained in 37 points and Draymond Green was all over the court in a defensive gem.
Green made newly minted All-Star Julius Randle struggle from the field while piling up 11 assists, two steals and one block. Randle finished with 25 points on 8 of 21 shooting and got ejected with 17.5 seconds remaining after picking up his second technical.
Indeed, the Knicks were frustrated afterward, with coach Tom Thibodeau and Derrick Rose each taking issue with the lack of calls going the Knicks’ way — perhaps causing them to shoot just 39 percent.
“Sometimes you get calls, sometimes you don’t,’’ Thibodeau said. “It just seemed like there was a lot of contact on our drives and we didn’t get the calls. We have to deal with that, yeah.’’
Meanwhile, RJ Barrett had a rough night, shooting 1 of 9 for four points and missing a key free throw with 1:26 left. The Knicks allowed the Warriors to steal the win despite holding Golden State to 15 points in the fourth quarter.
“Obviously we didn’t play well,’’ Thibodeau said. “They played really well. The shooting sets up a lot of their offense and Draymond is terrific in terms of making decisions so it stretches you out pretty good.’’
The crowd was at its surliest when Barrett was called for a foul on a driving Kelly Oubre with 59.8 seconds left. Thibodeau lost the challenge, making the jeering Garden faithful even angrier.
Losing the challenge rankled Thibodeau.
“I didn’t think there was a foul,’’ Thibodeau said. “Obviously they felt differently. That was sort of my vantage point, if that was a foul there were several others that were fouls as well that weren’t called. It can’t be one way and that’s what you’re looking for. You’re just looking for consistency.”
The night looked like it would turn all special when Randle took the microphone before tipoff to chants of “MVP,” thanked the essential workers and bellowed, “Let’s go Knicks!’’ The MVP chants would continue whenever he shot free throws.
“Right from the jump, you could tell they were excited the way they were cheering for Ju,’’ Rose said. “You kind of forget how much energy you get and bounce you get when fans are in the building. We hope things keep improving and keep letting more fans in. You can tell the city is excited and waiting to come to some games.’’
During player introductions, the Warriors were soundly booed, same as when one of their players headed to the foul line.
“The fans were heckling,” Curry said. “It’s amazing to silence the crowd whether it’s 19,000 or 2,000.”
After Green bricked two straight deep shots, the fans in the blue seats started a chant of “Draaay-mooond.’’ It all felt refreshing after nearly two months of a sterile Garden environment that featured computer-generated noise.
The eager fans, who missed the first 14 games, were sprinkled throughout the arena, many in new Immanuel Quickley or Randle jerseys.
Sitting courtside were 20 socially distanced fans, including former Giant star Justin Tuck.
Team president Leon Rose and his lieutenants were stationed courtside for the crowd-less games but were moved behind the baseline on the far side of the Knicks bench Tuesday.
The frustration of the second half — and the referees — got to them, though. The Warriors began the second half on a 22-6 run.
After Elfrid Payton was called for questionable foul after stripping Curry, Rose stomped his feet and Knicks senior vice president William Wesley angrily bolted from his seat, pacing in disgust.
The Knicks’ two top officials indeed got caught up in the newly charged atmosphere. Meanwhile, Knicks owner James Dolan was not present in his new 100-level seat — likely hidden away in a suite.