Knicks Starting to Inch Their Way Back to Respectability

Published on: 8th January, 2014

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Anthony (credit to Barton Silverman)
Anthony scored 32 points to lead the Knicks over Detroit  | read this item

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New York — Nobody could have predicted this Knicks season would be as putrid as it’s been up to this point. Going into tonight’s home contest against the talented but inconsistent Detroit Pistons, the Knicks were coming off a confidence-building road trip on which they did a Texas Two-Step in the Texas triangle, beating both San Antonio and Dallas while losing a game to Houston they should have won.

But, putrid as it’s been, and make no mistake about it, an 11-22 record is putrid, there may be reason to believe, in the land of Dolanville, a.k.a, Madison Square Garden, the Knicks have finally begun to shake off the cobwebs of this season’s hazy first 33 games. And, they might just be steering the ship in the right direction, going from putrid towards respectability.

They continued their little run of good play tonight in defeating the Pistons, 89-85 in front of another sold out Garden, the 122nd MSG sellout in a row. They won by playing strong defense, by having Carmelo “I can’t wait for free agency” Anthony score most of his team-leading 32- points while in the flow of the game, and by limiting, without center Tyson Chandler in the lineup, the explosive and talented Pistons front line of Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, and Josh Smith to less than their season averages in points and rebounds. No easy feat.

But, more than anything else about these Knicks, they seem to be having fun again on the court, and it’s translating into a mini-trend of well-played games that are ending with a W.

“We are starting to have a little more fun out there and trusting each other more,” Anthony said. “We believe in one another. When it comes down to it, we are all on the same page, we all know what is going on. That has been the case the last couple of games.”

Anthony scored 32 points to lead the Knicks over Detroit

Anthony scored 32 points to lead the Knicks over Detroit

 

Carmelo Anthony post-game (Click link to left)

 

In getting Raymond Felton back into the lineup tonight for his first game since Dec. 20 because of a hamstring injury, the Knicks seemed to play with greater confidence on the offensive end, attacking with more frequency rather than sitting back and hoisting long jump shots.

Felton ended up playing 31 minutes, putting up 12 points and six assists, as well as playing solid defense on Pistons point guard, Brandon Jennings, who was held to five points on 2 for 12 shooting.

“I am happy to have Ray back,” said Anthony. “The way he runs pick-and-roll. He finds us and trusts us to make shots.”

The re-awakening of Iman Shumpert’s game is also beginning to pay huge dividends for the Knicks, not only giving them another scoring option but an aggressive and athletic perimeter defender against opposing guards who can fill passing lanes and create turnovers.

“I think we are playing harder now,” Shumpert said. “We are getting points off turnovers and we are going inside-out and making shots. I think the energy is a lot better.”

Then, Shumpert added, “That is Knicks basketball.”

Whether or not Shumpert is onto something about this notion of Knicks basketball will be severely tested this coming Thursday, when the Miami Heat roll into town with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and the rest of the NBA defending champions.

The Heat will provide a true test of how far the Knicks have come from being one of the early-season dregs of the NBA to slowly moving into contention for a playoff position in the Eastern Conference. But, if tonight’s post-game confidence after a win over the Pistons is any indication, the now 12-22 Knicks seem ready to move up from putrid status to mere mediocrity, one step at a time.

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