Do Not Adjust Your Set, The Knicks Play Defense

Knicks halt Philly's six-game win streak with sound defensive effort

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Jan 12, 2012  |  Updated 8:00 AM EDT
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Defense hasn't been seen in these parts since the Van Gundy days.

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Subscribers to Time Warner who have had the ability to watch Knicks games snatched away from them due to the money fight with MSG are going to be in for a great shock when they next see the Knicks.

They'll flip on the screen with memories of the first few games of the season when the Knicks couldn't guard anybody and instantly turn into astronauts landing on Mars for the first time. The eyes won't believe what they see because the Knicks are actually playing defense.

For the second time in three nights, the Knicks rode their defense to a home victory. The one against the Bobcats on Monday was ugly, but Wednesday night brought the division-leading 76ers and their six-game winning streak to town.

The step up in opposition made an 85-79 win something to savor, even if it came with some things that weren't particularly likable. The Knicks had leads of 16 and 17 points in the second half that dwindled down to almost nothing as their offense completely flamed out down the stretch, but the defense held long enough for the Knicks to win their fourth straight game.

Offseason moves made it obvious that the Knicks wanted to get better defensively. Tyson Chandler was signed for his defensive presence and Mike Woodson is on the bench to help run the defense from a coaching persepctive.

The returns on Wednesday night were quite good. They held the Sixers 22 points under their season average, forced them to shoot just 39.5 percent from the floor and made that stand up by outrebounding the Atlantic Division leaders by nine.

Nine wound up being a bigger number for the Knicks than it was for Herman Cain on Wednesday night. Those nine rebounds were a big reason for the win because it enabled them to over come too other ugly nines in the final nine minutes.

The Knicks turned the ball over nine times and missed all nine shots from the floor in the final nine minutes of the game, allowing the Sixers to cut their lead to four points at one point and putting a scare into the Garden. The problems were the same as they have been all season, with no flow on the offensive end thanks to the lack of a true point guard.

Garden favorite Iman Shumpert shot poorly and turned the ball over too much, Carmelo Anthony missed every shot he took in the fourth quarter and the true offensive star of the night was Josh "Jorts" Harrellson who scored 13 points off the bench to help build the lead that the Knicks almost frittered away. It's almost as if they signed Chandler and Woodson to revamp their offense.

There's something funny about a Mike D'Antoni team winning through defense and it doesn't quite look right when you see it unfolding in front of you, but four straight wins are four straight wins. The Knicks schedule is looking tough for the rest of the month, starting with a trip to Memphis on Thursday night, but they'll have a chance to come through looking good as long as they keep defending the way they have during this winning streak.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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