Knicks Win Second In A Row To Push Record To 3-2

Published on: 6th November, 2010

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Knicks Win Second In A Row To Push Record To 3-2  | read this item

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New York – It’s not so much that the Knicks defeated the Washington Wizards tonight at Madison Square Garden, 112 -91. The home win, coming as it did against a struggling, young Wizards team won’t necessarily make the rest of the league sit up and take notice. But, it was the way the Mike D’Antoni-coached New York Knicks won this game that may lead to a little head-turning around the league, maybe even a little trickling of nervous eye-blinking among opposing coaching staffs as they prepare to play the Knicks down the road.

You see, this wasn’t one of those D’Antoni games where the object is to outscore the other team, defense be damned. Against the John Wall-led Wizards, the Knicks won this game on the defensive end of the floor. I’ll repeat that: The Knicks won this game with defense!

With the Garden spotlights on John Wall and Gilbert Arenas, who was making his first appearance in an NBA game in 10 months, it was the Knicks backcourt of Raymond Felton and Toney Douglas that stole the show – offensively and especially, defensively.

Douglas had 19 points and a career-high 10 rebounds, Felton added 13 points and 10 assists but they also forced the rookie, Walls into a career-high 9 turnovers, outplaying the more heralded duo of No. 1 draft pick Wall and Gilbert Arenas.

Afterwards, in the happy locker room, it was the feisty Felton who talked about the challenge of facing high-profile guard combos.

“We come out here to play basketball. I don’t look at nobody like, ‘Oh my goodness, that’s Gilbert Arenas, oh my goodness, that’s the first pick, John Wall,” Felton said. “I look at it as he’s another person just like I am. Puts his pants on just like I do. That don’t mean nothing to me.”

Douglas followed his career-best, 30-point outing Thursday, when the Knicks made 16 of 24 3-pointers in a 120-112 victory at Chicago, with another strong game, which included five steals and four offensive rebounds among his ten total boards.

Wall, who ended up with 13 points on just four of eleven shooting, was joined in the backcourt by Arenas, who missed the first three games with an ankle injury and played in the regular season for the first time since Jan. 5, before he was suspended the final 50 games for carrying guns into the Verizon Center locker room.

Arenas scored 18 points, 14 in the final quarter to help Washington briefly make it close.

“First couple of them I rushed it, just being nervous out there. In the fourth quarter I felt comfortable,” Arenas said. “It’s really been a long time, they kept yelling at me to be aggressive and I was like, ‘I forgot how to.'”

The Knicks let the Wizards get within six points with seven minutes to go in the game before a couple of threes from Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler put the game out of reach for the Knicks.

“We’re creating our own identity, making sure of our own destiny,” Douglas said. “We know what it takes to win and everyone’s on the same page.”

After their home-opener this season, a debacle in which the Knicks blew a nine-point advantage with under five minutes to play when they allowed the Portland Trailblazers to go on a 14-2 run, D’Antoni’s charges seemed to take that loss very personally.

Since then, in this very early part of the season, they’ve won their last two against teams led by spectacular point guards, capable of exploding in bunches of points with the Derrick Rose Chicago Bulls and tonight, the Wizards and Mr. Wall.

It may be too soon to tell but the Knicks may very well be turning a corner with their ability in these last two games to hold onto a lead down the stretch and, to stop other teams from scoring.

As you go around the Knicks locker room after the game, the mantra is a very un-D’Antoni like word. Defense. But, there you have it.

“We’re playing well and doing a great job defensively,” said Amar’e Stoudemire, not known for being a defensive stopper in his years with the Suns and now, playing for D’Antoni’s Knicks. “The most important factor for us right now is to really key in defensively.”

These Knicks really seem to be developing an identity on the defensive end of the floor that they’re taking pride in.

“We take it upon ourselves to take on the challenge of guarding players, playing team defense, helping one another,” said Stoudemire. “It is really paying off for us.”

Another element of this team’s evolving chemistry is in it’s new backcourt combination of Smurf-like guards, the 6’0” Felton and the 5’11” Douglas. Playing together, they’ve been wreaking havoc with opposing guards because of their excellent on-the-ball defensive prowess, tough as nails approach, and excellent quickness. Douglas, in particular has the look of a reliable player on both sides of the floor while Felton, a six-year NBA veteran, continues to be a steady, if not spectacular point guard, something he has been since entering the NBA out of North Carolina.

Douglas’ reputation coming out of college was as a tenacious defender and he’s done nothing since being drafted by the Knicks to alter that impression. It’s on the offensive end where he’s taken his play to another level no one expected.

“I knew he was a scrappy, great defender,” Stoudemire said. “He has really impressed me with the way he is shooting the ball out there.”

D’Antoni has been impressed with Douglas from day one of training camp.

“He is playing both ends of the floor,” he said. “When he wasn’t playing last year, he was in every morning working with the coaches, getting better, shooting, getting better at pick-and-rolls. He stayed here all summer. He has made himself into a heck of a basketball player.”

Heady praise from the head coach of a Knicks team that is one game over .500 at 3-2, itself a heady record for what has been a moribund franchise for more than a decade and a franchise now in its 37th year since its last NBA championship.

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