Say what you will about the New York Knicks this year, but boy, they sure make things interesting.
With the Eastern Conference playoff race heating up, Mike Woodson's squad entered Orlando with their backs against the proverbial wall. The team faced a must-win against Dwight Howard and the formidable Magic. They did just that.
The Knicks emerged from the Amway Center with a 96-80 victory and an above-.500 record. New York neutralized Orlando's low-post offense and found a way to balance the scoring, with five players recording double-digit points.
America's fascination and borderline obsession with statistics manifests itself beyond fantasy sports. True, they say that "stats often lie," but more often than not, they speak volumes about performance.
Let's take a look at five stats that explain just how the Knicks toppled Orlando on Thursday night.
Anthony has been subjected to immense criticism this year for forcing his own offensive production at the expense of his teammates. But this was not the case last night, and Anthony's reduced output allowed other players to take the reins and create a more-balanced offensive strategy.
True, the Syracuse alum shot just 37.5-percent from the field, but his selflessness turned a poor-shooting night into a reassuring performance for Knicks' fans.
Tyson Chandler out-muscled defensive dynamo Dwight Howard last night, a crucial factor in determining an aggressive tempo for New York.
The 7'1" center grabbed twelve boards on Thursday, helping the Knicks hold the Magic to a mere 80 points and dispelling notions that New York is a defense-defficient team.
Chandler's dominant presence in the paint further forced Orlando to take 24 threes, connecting on only 9 of them. The short-handed Knicks were able to sure up their perimeter D with Chandler patrolling the inside.
It's no secret that one-guard Toney Douglas has struggled mightily this year.
Yet on Thursday, the third-year pro was wildly successful, connecting on seven of 12 shots and tallying 15 total points.
While Douglas' efficiency has hovered around plus-four all season, he posted a plus-22 mark in Orlando, and his energy off the bench allowed for serious line-up flexibility.
The Knicks may have finally figured out how to deal with their dearth of point guards, as Douglas, Iman Shumpert and Baron Davis all saw significant playing time.
Thursday's loss was especially painful for a Magic organization encompassed by reports of disconnect within the franchise.
Just as Orlando seemed to have found organizational stability with Dwight Howard amending his contract to remain with the team another season, rumors of Howard calling for the firing of coach Stan Van Gundy surfaced.
The result? Less than ideal for "D12," who posted a horrid minus-nine efficiency rating against the Knicks.
Perhaps the highly-touted center was distracted, but far more likely, this statistic shows just how effective Chandler and company were on the low post.
With Howard struggling, Orlando never stood much of a chance.
Not only did the Knicks out-perform their opponents on the glass Thursday night, but they flaunted dominant transition defense as well.
New York swiped seven steals from the Magic, a promising sign going forward for a team that has been especially inconsistent on the fast break.
The Knicks simply came out as the more aggressive, faster team on Thursday night, translating to a much-needed W.