After losing to the Grizzlies on Friday night, many wondered if the Knicks’ six game winning streak was just a lucky start to the season. Was the team just a fluke after earning a few easy victories? Would they actually be able to maintain a competitive edge throughout the entire season?
To be a contending team, one needs to be able to win on any given night. Beating good teams and bad ones without any sign of let-down is absolutely necessary night in and night out. To truly be respected, the Knicks need to build even more consistency this season.
And that’s exactly what the team set out to begin doing on Sunday afternoon. Taking on the Pacers at the Garden, the game represented the first chance the Knicks have had to display some resiliency.
Yesterday’s matinee was an early 12pm start. Sometimes getting things going when hitting the hardwood so early can be difficult. Perhaps not as awake as they could have been on offense, the Knicks luckily found out the Pacers were even slower out the gates than they were.
And then they pounced. Sensing a sign of weakness, the Knicks’ used their defense (as they have in the early goings of the season already) to pester and frustrate the Pacers, enough to propel them to an 88-76 victory.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was still rather gritty. Clamping down on defense, New York swarmed their opponent all game long. And wouldn’t you know it, after struggling to crash the boards for seven contests, the Knicks broke out on Sunday, out-rebounding the Pacers.
With the shots not falling, the home town still found other ways to take down Indiana, who are competing without the help of star Danny Granger.
Instead, it was Paul George who led the Pacers’ feeble effort with 20 points. Big Apple product Lance Stephenson also returned home on Sunday, but the biggest contribution he made was accidentally grinding his tooth into Jason Kidd’s head after falling for a shot-fake. The Knickerbocker needed stitches, but later returned to the game.
The Knicks were led by Carmelo Anthony’s 22 points. Though floor general Raymond Felton struggled to find his shooting touch from the field, so did many of his teammates. The guard still finished with 11 points and 8 assists.
Alas, the team’s stars of the game emerged on the defensive end. Helping pace that effort was Marcus Camby, who was rewarded with 12 minutes of play after not appearing in the previous two contests.
The big man grabbed four rebounds and blocked two shots. More importantly, perhaps, was the all-out effort the second-time Knicks center displayed on the court. Camby played aggressively, swarming opponents and even getting down and dirty on the floor to fight for loose balls.
Needless to say, New York will continue to enjoy his potential contributions, should they keep allowing their defensive intensity to propel them to victories.
Next up for the Knicks is a matchup with the Hornets on Tuesday evening. Their level of consistency will continue to be put through the test.