By John Schmeelk
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The Knicks head into the Texas portion of their road trip at 8-1, and some people out there are looking for any excuse to pooh-pooh New York’s record.
They beat Philadelphia without Andrew Bynum? Sure, ignore the fact the Sixers are 7-2 against the rest of the league. The Mavericks were without Dirk, but are still over .500 in their other games. The Heat were distracted by Superstorm Sandy, yet somehow the Knicks weren’t.
Those were all good wins.
Playing the Pacers without Danny Granger and the Hornets without Anthony Davis made those teams easier targets, but the Knicks still won by a combined 34 points. Neither the Pacers nor the Hornets were close in the fourth quarter, and even having those two players might not have made a real difference.
If the stat Spero Dedes gave during Tuesday night’s Knicks game was correct, they have had the toughest schedule in the league based on the total record of their opponents. They’ve beaten the team with the best record in the East and two teams in the West tied for the best record in the conference. Their opponents so far this year have an aggregate record of 55-42. In games they haven’t played the Knicks they are 54-34. The only dominant teams the Knicks haven’t played so far are the Clippers and Thunder.
Even with such a difficult schedule, the Knicks’ margin of victory is best in the league — and it’s not close. They are beating teams by an average of 11.78 points, with the Clippers in second place about three full points behind.
The Knicks aren’t just beating the best teams in the league, they are dominating.
New York’s only win that hasn’t been by double digits came against the Spurs in San Antonio. The Knicks have won four games by 20 points or more.
Even last night, when the Knicks played far from their best game, the Hornets were blown out. It was clear from the outset the Knicks were the far superior team, and the Hornets were only in it for as long as New York allowed them be. Once the defense got turned up in the second half, New Orleans couldn’t score and the game was over. They only scored 32 points in the second half on 34 percent shooting, and committed eight turnovers. The Knicks’ starters barely played in the fourth quarter.
That’s what good teams do to bad teams.
Barring a serious injury to Carmelo Anthony or Tyson Chandler, this Knicks team is going to win 50 games. They’re simply too talented, take care of the ball too well, and play too hard on defense not to. There aren’t too many crazy statistical outliers that tell me a regression is bound to happen.
The Knicks are very good — and they’re here to stay.
– Despite all his points, I didn’t like the way Carmelo Anthony played last night. He wasn’t posting up nearly as much or taking the ball to the basket. He settled for too many jumpers and got back into his hold-the-ball-to-create-a-shot routine As Jason Kidd put so eloquently after the game, “You get him the ball and kinda get out of his way.” The Knicks can get away with that when Anthony is hot and they are playing a bad team, but that’s a formula for defeat against better teams. For one game it’s fine, but it can’t be a habit.
– Raymond Felton was an amazing plus-30 last night and hit five of six threes. Let that settle in.
– J.R. Smith’s shot selection has started to regress a little bit over the past couple of games. He is going with way too many step-backs and contested jump shots. Those won’t keep going in. Open jump shots where he can set his feet and drive to the hoop is where he’ll have the most success.
– Steve Novak is going through a cold stretch, but I wouldn’t expect it to last much longer. He’s too good of a shooter and teams will soon regret leaving him open as much as they have. At the same time, expect the three point shooting of Felton, Ronnie Brewer, Smith and Kidd to slide down a bit. Anthony should so some improvement from behind the arc as well.
– Happy Thanksgiving to all. Enjoy the time with your friends and family and give thanks for all the good things we have. For once, we can be thankful for a good basketball team in New York. A special thank you to all our men and women overseas helping protect our freedom, and best wishes to those still affected by Sandy.
You can follow me on Twitter for everything Knicks, Giants, Yankees and New York sports @Schmeelk.
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