There's always a debate about whether to deliver good news or bad news first when you've got both report.
The Knicks won 113-97 on Wednesday night against the Magic, which is certainly a good thing. The game was a bit closer than the score indicated as it was tied at halftime and a six-point Knick lead after three quarters, but the second half made it clear which of these teams is heading somewhere this season.
Despite the win, the Knicks defense was again in shoddy shape. The first half featured Magic guards alternating between burying open threes and blasting their way to the hoop for easy buckets.
It's more of the same thing we've been seeing for the last couple of weeks, especially from point guards who are feasting on matchups with the Knicks backcourt. Jameer Nelson didn't quite pull a Rajon Rondo, Jrue Holliday or Jeff Teague out of his bag of tricks, but it was enough to keep this game closer than it needed to be.
Defensive complaints can be shunted to the side temporarily, though, because of how good the Knicks offense looked on Wednesday night. It was a performance out of the heights of November, overflowing with ball movement, pick and rolls and efficient shotmaking from the start to the end.
And it was even better than those November games because it featured Amar'e Stoudemire as part of the mix. Stoudemire continued his rapid offensive return to life by hitting all seven of his shots and even making a nifty dish or two as part of the overwhelming effort.
We've seen Stoudemire play well offensively before, but we've never quite seen the Stoudemire/Carmelo Anthony/Tyson Chandler trio all thrive offensively at the same time like this. Anthony had 20 points on 17 shots (his fewest in more than a month while dropping 20 for the 30th straight game) and Chandler added 21 thanks to a steady diet of the pick and roll mentioned before.
Both of them also had five assists, which speaks to exactly the kind of flow to the offense that we lamented when it was absent from previous teamings of the star trio. Everyone was doing their thing and doing it well, making it hard to focus on the defensive struggles for at least a night.
Raymond Felton had nine assists and no turnovers and J.R. Smith added 11 points and four assists to the mix, making for a five-man unit that was more than the Magic were able to withstand. It also made for images of fourth quarters down the stretch when the Knicks came with so many options that better defenses find the same fate as the Magic found on Wednesday night.
A nice dream, especially while dealing with reality means figuring out how to return the defense to its November levels as well.