The New York Knicks have won back-to-back games for just the second time this season. Tonight’s victory was an 89-85 victory over the Detroit Pistons. In both of their last two wins, there has been a change with the Knicks; there has been a commitment to competing on the defensive end of the floor. In both games the Knicks allowed 85 points or less, a feat they have only accomplished three other times this season.
In their win against the Dallas Mavericks they held their opponent to 41 percent shooting and 23 percent from three. Tonight against the Pistons, they allowed 37 percent shooting from the floor and 16 percent from three. Compare these numbers to their season averages of 46 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three, and the Knicks look like a brand new focused team.
Give some of the credit to the return of Tyson Chandler as having an anchor on the block is always a great starting foundation for their defense. But the return of Raymond Felton also proved to be promising tonight as well. He held his counterpart Brandon Jennings to 2-for-12 shooting and only five points. Even without Chandler tonight, the presence of Kenyon Martin in the starting lineup provided the toughness that this team needs.
Even the usually distant Carmelo Anthony looked like a new man tonight. He wasn’t forcing the issue tonight and scored 34 points on a fairly efficient 24 shots including 6-for-7 from three. Defense is contagious and when you start hitting your shots like Melo did tonight, it gives you a little more incentive to play the team game.
Maybe the Knicks are finally realizing it’s not too unrealistic to reach for the Atlantic Division title. If the last two games are the real Knicks, then they have a better chance than anyone. Mike Woodson has them back to what made them so successful last year with tough-nosed defense. Let’s see how long this lasts.