The Knicks Finish Strong This Time

And they get a look in a funhouse mirror too

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Apr 6, 2012  |  Updated 7:34 AM EDT
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It's nice to laugh at someone else for a change.

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You couldn't help note the similarity to Tuesday night in Indiana.

The Knicks were up by 15 points heading into the fourth quarter against the Magic on Thursday night. They had dominated the second and third quarters once again, building up a big lead thanks to the same mix of effective offense and sturdy defense they rode to their advantage over the Pacers before an epic fourth quarter meltdown.

So, everyone was waiting with baited breath to see if the Knicks would once again fall to pieces when faced with the final quarter of an NBA game. Happily, there was no such trouble this time as everyone stayed sharp en route to a 96-80 victory.

Just about everybody who played had a hand in the win. Carmelo Anthony scored 19 points before taking the fourth quarter off, Baron Davis spent the third quarter making it look like the Rucker tournament with his playground passes for easy buckets and Tyson Chandler did what Tyson Chandler does just about every night of the season.

The shooting from deep was excellent as Steve Novak (naturally) and J.R. Smith (somewhat less naturally) both knocked down their threes and continued their begging to be a sitcom chemistry on the court.

Landry Fields even hit a couple of threes, but he also missed all six free throws to balance things out and make you wonder what happened to the player who was so impressive as a rookie.

Heck, even Toney Douglas wound up with a 15 point, six assist, five rebound night. Overall, the team had 24 assists against just 11 turnovers, well below their usual average of 90.

We kid, but, seriously, the Knicks played very well. It's the second straight time that they've routed the Magic and we got a pretty good idea about why it has been so easy to beat a team way ahead of the Knicks in the standings on Thursday afternoon.

That was when Stan Van Gundy told the media that a team executive told him that Dwight Howard asked for the coach to be fired, the latest twist in a season-long saga of me-first behavior by Howard that even Melo thinks is a bit egregious.

Van Gundy's press session ended when Howard came over for an attempt at playful bonding transparent enough to win a wet T-shirt contest and, after Van Gundy left, got bombarded with questions about Stan Van's bombshell.

Howard didn't handle it particularly well and then went out and played one of the more pathetic games we've seen in quite a long time. He didn't score until there were seconds left in the third quarter, was completely dominated by Chandler and looked like he cared about winning about as much as inanimate carbon rods care about anything.

It all felt very familiar to anyone who has spent much time watching these Knicks this season, although that didn't make it any less enjoyable to watch another team devolve into a circus.

That shouldn't take away from a very good Knicks performance, but watching a center who has sabotaged his team's entire season laughing on the bench at the end of a fifth-straight loss has a way of dominating the headlines.

That's fine. Let the Knicks start worrying about back-to-back games with the Bulls that will have much to do with where this season's going to end up.

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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