The Knicks Pass Their First Test With Flying Colors

Down 12 with seven minutes to play on the road, the Knicks find themselves

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Following these two is working pretty well for the Knicks.

    There were plenty of people who enjoyed the first five games of the Knicks season without allowing themselves to get swept up in crazy dreams about where the team will go this season. 

    We imagine that there are a lot less of those people after Game Six. There's just something about coming back from 12 points down in the final seven minutes of a road game in San Antonio that makes it hard to remain cool and rational about the play of a basketball team. 

    The 104-100 win was the Knicks' first win in Tim Duncan's part of the world since 2003 (Don Chaney was coach, Howard Eisely was point guard) and it leaves them at 6-0 for the first time since the 1993-94 season. We all know how that one ended and you'd be forgiven for briefly considering booking hotel rooms in June for every Western Conference city while the Knicks were closing the game on a 27-11 run that featured exactly zero field goal attempts by Carmelo Anthony. 

    You read that correctly. Anthony, who just couldn't get anything to fall all night, didn't take a shot in the crucial moments of the game and the team still made as magnificent a run as you're likely to see all season. 

    As with almost every Knicks game this season, it turned on the back of Jason Kidd. He started pulling them out of their hole with a pair of threes and then closed out the run with two more sparkling plays. 

    The first was a steal of a Manu Ginobili that led to a pass to Anthony, who drove and kicked to Ray Felton who spun in the lane and pushed the ball back out to a wide open J.R. Smith for a three that put the Knicks up for the first time since the third quarter. The Knicks forced a 24-second violation on the next Spurs possession and then Kidd finished a Felton feed for another three and there were plenty of New Yorkers wondering why their neighbors were screaming like lunatics. 

    By the time Tyson Chandler followed one of Felton's rare misses with a thundering dunk, you'd hope they had turned on the game themselves because it is starting to feel like the obligation of every New Yorker to get on board. If not, Rasheed Wallace will stand in front of your refrigerator without letting you get any of those Greek yogurts you've been fiending for this season. 

    It was a comeback for the ages on a night when it looked like we'd be asking other questions about the Knicks. They shot the lights out in the first half, but started to struggle on both ends of the floor when the game went to a more sluggish pace in the second half. 

    The rebounding was awful, they couldn't hit a free throw and Tiago Splitter scored 12 straight Spurs points while the Knicks were ice cold as a team from the perimeter for the first time all season. It was shaping up to be a night where we'd see how the Knicks respond to a night that doesn't go their way. 

    That's the old Knicks. These are the new Knicks. 

    These Knicks turn up the volume defensively in the fourth quarter and they have a star in Melo that is suddenly willing to do everything other than score to help his team win in the essential moments of the game. The confidence, which starts with Mike Woodson and filters through Felton (who won a sparkling duel with Tony Parker Thursday night) and Kidd before reaching the rest of the team. 

    We're not going to rehash the Jeremy Lin debate, but it's hard to imagine anyone pining away for him any more after watching Felton's ability to get points without turning the ball over and Kidd's ability to change games defensively. The guards are pushing this team and it all works in perfect cohesion in a way it never has in the past. 

    Figuring out to respond to that is rough for a fan base used to seeing the team unravel in situations like they faced in San Antonio and sulking off to a loss after everyone tries to play the hero. Now, though, they come together to form a stronger unit and raise the level of everyone's game all at once. 

    It's been marvelous to watch and, for the first time, we're seriously starting to wonder if it is ever going to end. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.