If you were to draw up a perfect Knicks performance, it would look a lot like the one they turned in on Monday night against the Pistons.
They hit 14 three pointers, held the Pistons to 42 percent shooting from the floor and got off to a quick start to take the fight out of Detroit right away on the second night of a back-to-back to the visitors. The 99-85 final closed out a homestand with five wins in five tries and represented another cruise to the finish against an overmatched opponent.
Carmelo Anthony scored 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the floor while adding seven rebounds and three assists. Amar'e Stoudemire missed a shot this time out, but he didn't let it stop him from adding 20 points and a couple of steals to continue his total reintegration into the lineup.
Raymond Felton took just five shots while dishing out nine assists and never having to go to the bench to get his previously broken pinkie finger iced and J.R. Smith potted five threes off the bench with a break to scrimmage with some 8-year-olds during halftime. And then there's Tyson Chandler.
Chandler grabbed 20 rebounds for the third straight game, the first Knick to do that since Willis Reed, and it's starting to look like he's got some kind of magnets in his hands that forces every errant shot to zip directly into his possession. He admitted to gunning for the mark on Monday, but 60 rebounds in three games is 60 rebounds in three games even if you might have been cleaning glass for reasons beyond helping the team.
Nipickers will surely point out that Chandler didn't have a great game all around and that the Knicks' 15 turnovers are much too high for a team that usually prides itself on ball control while saying that it's a huge stretch to call that kind of performance perfect. To that we'd answer that it's pretty much in how you define the word.
For the Knicks to succeed this season, everyone has long agreed that they need to find a way for their big three forwards to thrive at the same time. Over their eight wins in the last 10 games, that's just what the Knicks have done and Monday night's performance with all three excelling in their role without taking away from the other two was the perfect example of how that's supposed to work.
The last five games at the Garden have been wins over weak opposition so there's no point arguing that they illustrate the Knicks' fitness for a championship challenge. That can't come until the playoffs.
Using the games to pad their division lead while finding out that the grand experiment that's been percolating for most of three seasons can actually work, though? That works out just fine for the middle of the regular season because there's no point in thinking about anything grandiose unless those things happen.
The result could have been more decisive, perhaps, but it's hard to imagine things looking too much more perfect in the final rendering.