Knicks Keep Getting It Done

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Perfection doesn’t last forever. Not in the NBA. So this dazzling start to the season for the New York Knicks does have an expiration date.

That doesn’t mean Knicks fans shouldn’t enjoy the ride, though. They not only have the only unblemished (5-0) record in the league, but also a group that has the makings of a legitimate contender for a top-four playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.

Again, it’s early. And the true tests will present themselves in the coming days and weeks. Specifically, Thursday night’s tilt against the best team in the Western Conference (San Antonio) and a potential Friday night slugfest (in Memphis) will be key. The early overall returns, however, show a much-improved defensive team capable of winning even when their shots aren’t falling at a ridiculous clip.

Their effort last night showed us that they have the intestinal fortitude to come back from a late challenge as they dumped the the Magic in Orlando to preserve their perfect record. (And for you armchair historians out there, the last time the Knicks started a season 5-0 was the 1993-94 season — a campaign that ended in Game 7 of The Finals).

J.R. Smith's shot chart

J.R. Smith’s shot chart (through Nov. 13, 2012)

Credit for this turnaround should be spread all around, starting with Knicks coach Mike Woodson and All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, who has embraced the change without so much as a hint of displeasure. Having the oldest team in the league doesn’t always translate to having the wisest crew. But veterans like Raymond Felton and, more specifically, Jason Kidd, bring an element of understanding to every game in the natural grind of a season that you don’t get from a younger and inexperienced point guard (like … don’t say it … Jeremy Lin).

All that said, perhaps no player epitomizes the Knicks’ mini-metamorphosis better than the oft-embattled swingman J.R. Smith, who has become a consistent force off the bench for the first time in his career while leading the league in 3-point shooting (72.2 percent). With Kidd on one end of the spectrum and Smith on the other, Woodson has found a way to make it all work, as Nate Taylor of The New York Times pointed out after last night’s game:

“At halftime, Coach really got on us about our defense,” J. R. Smith said. “We played harder, we got through the screens and we closed out on shots. I think that was the difference.”

Smith provided the Knicks with the offense they desperately needed, scoring 21 points (12 in the third quarter) and shooting 9 for 14. He also had 2 steals and 4 rebounds.

By playing more aggressively, the Knicks held the Magic to 36 points in the second half.

The Knicks have yet to allow an opponent to score more than 40 points in the second half.

“We have active hands,” Kidd said. “You have guys who understand where to be on defense. Sometimes it’s not always going to be perfect, but guys were making the second and third effort. That just comes with trust.”

Trust isn’t a word you heard tossed around a whole lot with these Knicks last few seasons. And it’s a word that will no doubt be tested when Amar’e Stoudemire returns from injury (knee). He’ll have to trust Woodson and his staff if and when they ask him to assume a role outside of the superstar one he’s used to playing.

But he’ll have to trust that they are doing what’s best for the Knicks if/when they ask him to come off the bench and work himself back into form with the reserves rather than starting and altering the chemistry for a group in a groove.

49 Comments

  1. rex says:

    Get back Zbo or David Lee, heck they were great at the front just like ewing. Zbo and david lee became all stars when they were with NY.

  2. Trade amare for Kevin love

  3. Chester says:

    i agree with many above, melo stays at the 4 where he has proven to be most effective, with amare off the bench. he would provide some good instant offence as a bench big. if he cant handle not starting, trade him. woodson has said he wont deal with big egos, so he has to put his foot down. by the way, people thought atlanta wouldnt be able to get rid of joe johnson with his mammoth contract and now hes in brooklyn, so its possible

  4. Dtwenty says:

    I hope The Knicks trade Amare, the Atlanta Al Horford is a good option (stronger defense, and can create situations).

  5. Dtwenty says:

    The Knicks need trade Amare to Atlanta for Al Horford. (stronger defense, and can create situations)

  6. David V says:

    5-0 against weak teams except the heat… let’s see if this can go on and they’re still winning with 77 games to go… Amare should come off the bench if the team does well without him… at the end of the day, no ball stopping.

  7. celtics fan says:

    and defensivly hes and amazing rebounder who can grab alot of boards yall are dumb if u think this guy who is still in his prime is going to come off the bench

    • Chuck says:

      With all due respect, Celtics Fan, Either you’re being sarcastic or you’re clueless. The last big rebounding game Amare had was in the Middle Ages, let’s not even mention his defense. Anyone who’s honest with themselves when they have major injuries will do what’s right for the team, after all he’s not Garnett you know. True that Amare has an ego, you can’t be a star in the NBA without it. Amare also has been supremely unselfish since being a Knick. That will continue. And speaking to “his prime”, what exactly are you referring to?? Anyone who has had as many injuries and missed so much time, at 30’ish, is no longer in their prime. Enough of the negativity. KNICKS ALL DAY!

  8. prbaboy says:

    Its just a start of the season. Y predicting for NYK too much. remember, CP3 & New Orleans got 9-0 start during 2010-2011 season, but what happen, injuries hurt them + consistencies of other players, not CP3. they were defeated by LAL during 1st round match-up of the play-off……

    Let us see NYK if they will encounter other better teams. Don’t make me say it: OKC, SAS, LAC, LAL etc..Its just a luck when NYK defeated Miami..My prediction is, NYK will have only 3rd-5th rank in the Eastern Conference, cuz D-rose will be back. 1st-MIA, 2nd-CHI, 3rd-5th-NYK/IND/BOS/PHI/BKN..

    Just watch.. no much trash talking!!!!!!

  9. cp10 says:

    Lin hater! Oh Sekou, we all know Jeremy’s a rook, Linsanity was great but we all knew Melo is the centerpiece acquisition for the Knicks. Everyone knew from common sense how it’ll play out, we all liked (or disliked) Linsanity for its entertainment value, that’s all it was.

  10. Angelo Garcia (Philippines) says:

    Y’all should shut up. Wait for the Playoffs. PERIOD.

  11. The People says:

    GO THE KNICKS…but the truth is whenever amare and melo are on the court together they get worse. it has been seen over the time they have been on on the same team. When melo was out, amare played with freedom and dominated causing wins. When amare is out melo plays with freedom and dominates. Part of me wishes amare would be out for a little longer….chemistry is off the charts at the moment.

  12. Chuck says:

    Amare will be fine, if he’s coming off the bench. If he has a problem with that, trade him. Unfortunately, there’s not much of a market out there for a 30 something going on 50 PF/C, especially if he’s as injury prone as Amare. Amare still has the talent and desire, but not the knees or back to be super anymore. If they trade him though, don’t expect a bounty in return. The Knicks best bet is convincing him to come off the bench.

  13. melofan says:

    I would trade amare too. I think Bargnani or JoshSmith would be perfect for New York, they both pretty good players, and they wouldnt distract melo…smith would give much more defense to the team + fast break could be an other option with him, or getting Bargnani would add another 3point shooter to the team

  14. knickgeoo says:

    As a Knick fan, i love the way they’ve started out the season. But also as a Knick fan, I know i’m probably setting myself up for a ton of heartbreak come playoff time.

  15. D says:

    I say keep STAT. He was the one that open up hopes for this team. He came here thinking he can be the star but more pieces came like Melo, JR.. etc. Melo is all about winning this season and not being the “star”.. STAT needs to change how he play. He needs to up his defense, stay in the paint, get back to the Pick n Rolls, and dish the ball out to the other players. We have enough jump shooters already. We needs him to be in the paint with Chandler and Melo to play his SF position which I believe he is best at (although he is putting in great work at PF). But back to STAT.. him on the bench lines watching the game and seeing how well the Knicks are doing good I would HOPE that he has that mindset too which is winning and doing whats right for the team. Go STAT.. I’m not against him just yet.

  16. MElvin says:

    Really? All this proves is we have the MAKINGS OF A TOP 4 SEED IN THE EAST? Thats all this is showing. If we keep this up we’ll be a top 2 seed in the East at worst.

  17. Dod says:

    why isnt anyone considering that possibility that Amare may come back more than effective due to the fact he’ll now be playing with an experienced pick and roll point guard again in Felton (the same point guard he had the best season of his career with)? Granted, Melo’s playing well at the four but he’s proven throughout his career that he’s equally as dynamic a scorer from the wings. People seem to forget that the offence ran through Melo last year, he operated mainly in isolation. Couple that with the fact neither were known as willing defenders and there you see why they didn’t operate well on the floor together. A defensive emphasis has been embraced by Melo and the rest of the Knicks this year and im sure Amare will have little trouble buying into the policy upon return. Bottom line, STAT is a 6 time all star, this team will be better when he comes back (whether that be from the bench or as a starter).

  18. josiah says:

    please guys wait, Amare didnt wotk in the crazy d’antoni system (hasnt worked in L.A yet) lol. Give Woodson a chance to make it work guys,

    D antoni cant work with more than one superstar, wait and see L.A

  19. ForRealThough says:

    The problem with amare and carmelo was ball movement. With JKidd and Felton that will be less of a problem if a problem at all. Amare coming back will benefit the Knicks…relax and take it easy. With a good point guard too many scoring options is never a bad thing. And amare has no ego problems. You have not heard one comment by him in the last year despite all the negative criticism. Relax it’ll all fall in to place. Don’t trade at top 15 player in the nba for nothing.

    • ForRealThough says:

      And the defense won’t suffer with Amare…he can stay in front of other big men. He’s never been particularly weak there anyways. Felton is more the quick enough to deal with whatever is matched up against him and JKidd finds a way to make it happen. Shumpert will be back and we all saw what he was capable of doing. Rasheed hates being scored on and Chandler is the DPOTY. Last but not least JR Smith and Carmelo seem to be getting it…they are buying into Woodsons defensive system and they are reaping rewards like they never have before(praise from the media). As long as Mike Woodson keeps the ball rolling and JKidd, Sheed, Camby and the other vets keep ball moving and egos on check. They should be ok till the playoffs. Then another story begins.

  20. vern says:

    @Kamil, I think with Amare, bad knees and an uninsured contract equal a no clause contract. Unless there’s another Dolan out there I don’t think another organization would take that on.

  21. Yogi Bear says:

    AMARE doesnt fit in NY… Trade to LA.. Fits D’antoni NASH. AMARE, HOWARD. KOBE.. KICK MWP

    • Come on man says:

      Would they just trade for Laker’s entire D-Grade bench? they’re definitely not going to get rid of one of their stars and it is pretty clear there is nothing else in their team….

    • DNice says:

      The Knicks should trade Amare to Utah for either Milsap or Jefferson, then it will be on! Amare stay hurt and don’t get me wrong, I love Amare but he just doesn’t fit with Melo out there, period, POINT BLANK!!!!!!!! KNICKS ALL DAY, so I hope they keep it up!

  22. B-Baller says:

    Sheed is back, and wants another RING

  23. Kingk says:

    I would trade away amare if i were the knicks because they can get more role players and are just fine with chandler and melo I still think that lebron can still beat the knicks though. Go heat!

    • rev.milly says:

      Kingk… Get real!!! Amare is a major piece to the New York Puzzle. He needs to work his way into the rotation in order for NYK to reach their full potential. I mean, people are talking about STAT like he is an iso-style scorer, when he has never been that in his whole career. Amare basically does the same thing that Tyson does on offence, just 10x better… Not a huge distraction at all. Tyson Chandler will get less pick and roll calls for himself and will crash the boards, Amare will be the main pick and roller (something he does really well with ray felton btw)), and he and Melo can feed off of each other and make the knicks an impossible puzzle to solve for opposing defences.

  24. Chuck Norris says:

    When Amare does come back, dont’ put Carmelo back at the SF position. Keep him at PF. You can have Amare at the 5 and Camelo at the four ,but not Amare, Carmelo and Chandler at the same time.

    • QuestionMark says:

      I would rather keep Chandler at 5, Stoudemire at 5 just kills their whole defense. I know for sure Stoudemire won’t come off the bench, since he is a star, so best to either trade him or if it works out between Melo and him then keep him. This Knicks team reminds me alot of the 2011 Mavs, a proper playmaker in Kidd, and decent scorer/playmaker in Felton, a defensive stopper in Brewer, a superstar in Melo and of course the defensive bigman that help the Mavs win.

      Mavs: Knicks:

      PG Kidd PG Felton
      SG Stevenson SG Kidd
      SF Marion SF Brewer
      PF Dirk PF Melo
      C Chandler C Chandler

      Practically the same, the Mavs had good chemistry and ball movement on offense and defense, that is what the Knicks need.

  25. tjMAX says:

    I don’t have any respect or interests to this knicks team no matter how many games they will win. I don’t like some big ego players and the way the team treated their former players. They like to trashtalk behind other people. that’s a disgusting and non professional behavior. Grow up, be mature. winning games doesn’t mean people will respect you.

    • Fan says:

      You’re definitely a Jeremy Lin fan aren’t you? Get over it and this is is coming from a Linsanity fan. If you have any other instances you want to suggest, speak up.

  26. Knicks fan says:

    i would say trade, amare (never liked signing him in first place) and get josh smith + some decent bench players. stronger defense and also Josh Smith can also score but he’s not super star like STATS so doesn’t disrupt melo and knicks’ flow. i think one super star surrounded with great line up gonna be better than 2 super stars who unfit for each other.

    • Mateo says:

      I agree with you, but I don’t think there is anyone out there who would like to get amare in a trade just cause of his injuries,I’m not saying he is a bad player but nobody wants to take that risk. Also think that bringing in a defensive minded power forward like Josh Smith or Zach Randolph that both can get rebounds,block shots and also score in the paint and that right know is the missing piece for Knicks. But who knows , maybe Amare will realize the fact that he should play more defense and if he can move all the injuries back it will be very hard to stop them.

    • QuestionMark says:

      Knicks can win with 1 superstar and great supporting cast, Mavs did it in 2011, they surrounded Dirk with good players, offensively, they had Terry off the bench, and defensively they had Chandler, Haywood, Kidd, Stevenson, and Marion, two of which are in NY right now. If Knicks can trade for Josh Smith and role players, then their possibility of beating the Heat and winning a title is increased drastically. They have playmakers in Felton and Kidd, they have a superstar in Melo, they have scoring off the bench in Novak and Smith, they have 3 defensive bigmen in Chandler, Camby and Wallace, and great perimeter defenders in Shumpert and Brewer. Knicks are a good team, they just have to put it all together.

  27. Kamil says:

    I love the Knicks, born and raised in New York City.

    I think we should trade Amare for a good package. I dont know if he has a no trade clause in his contract, but the Knicks could definitely find a could package in return for him. I wonder if Zach Randolph is a possibility. He has 5 good years left in him for sure. He can shoot, and he has proven he can score with his back to the basket and in the low post. All Amare has proven is he is a great power forward/center, he can score 30+ a game, but he has ego issues and he wants to be the main guy, the undisputed leader of the team, at least I think so. Getting draft picks in return would obviously be a must.

  28. David Mogrovejo-Araque says:

    A little piece iof advice to betters out there. Use your brain not your feelings when putting money down on these games. I didn’t know there was an extended time out maybe the knicks would’ve scored over 50 points had that lady not hurt herself and I wouldn’t be in a 15 dollar hole. Yeah, I thought the knicks play in the first half was bad and not up to their ability. In the second half they started playing like true champs. I knew they would score over 98 points but wasn’t sure about the over 50. I just put money down on the first half because I didn’t wanna deal with the agony but turns out theres more of it when you lose. Heck yeah, the knicks could win it all this year. And my friend saw Amare’ at Popeye’s on Jamaica Ave last Saturday, wooop!

  29. Game Time says:

    I’m still skeptical about them. The win over Miami came mainley because of hitting NINETEEN 3s! They beat Philly twice, Dallas, and now Orlando. That’s not impressive to me, but credit is due because like the writer says, their defensive efforts have picked up. They will be a contender this year to make the 2nd round or even ECF if they keep this up; however, the train stops at either one of those.

  30. newyorksteelo says:

    I agree with you Vern. I was like WTH when the Knicks appeared to not be the same aggressive defensive team of the first 4 games, in the first 2 quarters against the Magic. I was literally screaming at the TV set lol. Melo and even Chandler appeared to look tired and not as aggressive, but they pulled off the win and I am happy about that. The real test will come tomorrow when they play the Spurs.

  31. vern says:

    I was a little pissed with the defensive effort in the first quarter but in the 2nd they seemed to get loose, went up by 10 and on their way to blow the Magic out until the Magic called timeout. A young lady hurt herself while cheerleading during the timeout causing an extended time-out where the players cooled off. When play resumed the Knicks were cold again and allowed the Magic to get some confidence. 2nd half was different. Woodson must’ve got in that @ss because they came back ready. Spurs will be our real test! Go Knicks!!!

  32. KneeGrowPlease says:

    Look at my username and keep on dreaming.

    The Heat will win AGAIN!

    The Knicks MAY have a chance if as you’ve stated Stoudemire doesn’t ruin their groove, but also IF the old school playas can stay healthy.

    We shall see.

    It’s too early to call, so please let’s not start with naming the Knicks champions and we haven’t even been in the new season for a month yet. Wait till after the All Star game at least.

    *shucks and jives out the comments section

  33. KneeGrowPlease says:

    Before I get chewed out, I should clarify that in general people should not start calling the Knicks champions. Not YOU persay, but I’ve seen the calls being made already over the net.

  34. FakirWise says:

    This should go for you as well, there’s no guarantee the Heat are winning again. “It’s too early to call”, and after the two blowouts they’ve received already and nearly losing to the Rockets – let’s not act like the defending champs are a shoe in again.

  35. Haydz says:

    so someone cant say that the Knicks MAY have a legit chance to be a contender, but you are allowed to flat out say that the Heat will win it again, without a hint of doubt? You remember that guy named Michael Jordan right? he broke his foot and missed ~70 games one season… LeBron is trying to follow in his footsteps. if he does literally, the Heat will not stand a chance. its WAY too early to call anyone the champion. I made that mistake last year, right up until Derrick Rose snapped his ACL.

  36. QuestionMark says:

    Heat can win again, but will be tougher this season, especially if the Knicks keep playing the way they are, and if Bynum comes back and plays well. Knicks, Celtics and Philly have the potential to beat the Heat, only if they are healthy, if Bynum is injured, Philly can walk out the door. Celtics did get better, they lost Ray Allen, but they got Jason Terry, who can create his own shots, instead of just catch and shoot. And of course Knicks, I really would suggest trading Stoudemire, for more defense, and scoring off the bench, if Stoudemire ruins the chemistry.