Knicks Remain in Their Happy Place

Another night of defensive effort leads to another win

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Chandler and the Knicks were soaring on Tuesday night.

    You might not like the fact that Carmelo Anthony went public with the fact that he didn't really start trying to play a complete game until after Mike D'Antoni resigned, but you do have to give him some credit for honesty.

    He continued to give truth to his words Tuesday night as the Knicks stretched their winning streak with a 106-87 win keyed by work on the defensive end of the floor. Anthony was a big part of that defensive work with three steals and strong rebounding work that force you to shake your head twice. 

    The first shake is for the season that should have been if Anthony had been this committed from Day 1 on both ends of the floor. Memories of opposing players streaking to the hoop without being touched play out alongside Anthony and other Knicks stepping into passing lanes to create turnovers that lead to easy transition baskets.

    Shake No. 2 comes as you try to stop getting too ahead of yourself in terms of where this team is heading now. When a team with this much offensive talent decides to go all in at both ends of the floor while keeping the intensity at a high level, you can't help but wonder where this ride can wind up if things keep going in this direction.

    Anthony was able to play a strong game despite shooting just 5-of-15 from the field because he defended, rebounded and passed the ball at a high level.

    Jeremy Lin had another game that makes it seem like calling him a product of Mike D'Antoni's system was as big a miscalculation as the fact that he was on the scrap heap for the Knicks to find him in the first place.

    Amar'e Stoudemire showed offensive life, Tyson Chandler did his customary good things on both ends and the bench provided plenty of spark. Things went so well that Toney Douglas played the final minute, his first appearance in a game since Feb. 15.

    So, time to get all excited about the Knicks again? We can't stop you from doing it, but let's just call it a cautious optimism at this point in the proceedings.

    Mike Woodson's start has been full of glorious things, but he's hardly the first coach to come in and see his team respond with better results. It follows that a team wandering through the desert under one coach will see some kind of temporary bump when a new voice comes in to lead them, even in cases when the players don't make it so obvious that they were withholding parts of themselves under the last coach.

    The talent makes you think this might not just be a blip, however, so we'll move on to sheer math. The Knicks dug themselves a mighty deep hole and climbing all the way out of it is going to require these kinds of efforts every single time out of the gate, something that the Knicks haven't really proved themselves capable of providing this season.

    Doubts like that can only go away over time, but they can go away. Claiming a win over the Sixers on the road Wednesday night would make it a bit easier to push a little more money behind a bet on the Knicks as it would move them within three games of the Atlantic Division lead and solidify the idea that this isn't just another mirage.

    After all, Carmelo Anthony making more of an impact defensively than offensively isn't exactly something that seems real.

    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.