New York Knicks: The Time Is Now for the Team To Show Its Improvement
The Knicks have started their 2010-2011 season off in a strange way. They haven't been as good as some people thought they'd be, but they haven't been as bad as they usually are.
The season started normal as they won their opener and blew a huge lead at home in the fourth quarter. They then put together two straight impressive victories, one coming on the road against the Bulls on national television. They followed that up the next night with their only win at the Garden this season against the Wizards.
Things were pointing in the right direction and the Knicks were playing better defensively than they have in a while. However, they couldn't win a third straight game, losing at home to the 76ers by blowing another huge fourth quarter lead.
That started a six-game losing streak and it looked as if the Knicks were about to fold like they always do. In years past, when the Knicks would endure a prolonged losing streak very early on, they'd never recover.
They were criticized by their star acquisition A'mare Stoudemire after the fifth loss as being "comfortable with losing." That's when things changed. The team responded and most importantly, their star backed his words on the court.
Of course the Knicks still lost after their star made such critical statements, but they showed some life. Maybe they just wanted to show Carmelo Anthony that he is all they need to succeed. If that's what the Knicks' plan was in Denver, it worked.
Is this how the Knicks will play for the rest of the season?
After trailing big in the game, they came back to tie it, only to lose by a bucket, 120-118. It was their sixth straight loss, but at least they went down with a fight and didn't embarrass themselves in front of the man they hope to sign next summer.
The next night in Sacramento, the Knicks were in huge trouble in the first quarter. They trailed 27-12 at one point and it looked like a prior game they had in Minnesota. Once again, they came back and this time won the game to snap the skid at six.
They followed that up with a win at Golden State, holding on after nearly blowing a huge halftime lead. That was followed up with an entertaining win at the Clippers in a foul and dunkathon, as the Knicks held off 44 Blake Griffin points along with his massive dunks.
The Knicks attempted an outrageous 51 free throws and netted 43 of them, with most being drawn by Danilo Gallinari.
A'mare Stoudemire finished the game with 39 points and 11 boards, finishing off a brilliant week for him. He was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday and he deserved it. He got the award for his on-the-court play, but if it counted locker room leadership, he would've gotten it for that too.
The Knicks are on a three-game winning streak and have climbed into the seventh spot in the East. Three players have sparked this mini-turnaround.
Other than Stoudemire, Danilo Gallinari has completely reshaped his game. He's become a foul-drawing machine, perfecting the art of making defenders jump with head fakes.
What makes it even sweeter for him, is that when he goes to the foul line he never misses a shot. He's on the verge of breaking the all-time Knicks record for consecutive free throws made. He's also knocking down shots from the field.
The other Knick that has picked up his game is Raymond Felton. He knocked down 35 points and dished out 11 assists in the win over the Warriors and scored 20 points, along with 7 assists and 7 steals in the win over the Clippers.
The Knicks' defense hasn't been as good lately, as they've allowed the third-most points in the league. However, they still put pressure on with steals and forced turnovers. The team is now third in the league in points scored and have averaged 120 during the winning streak, which is tops in the NBA.
These wins may be against three bottom-of-the-league teams, but it's games the Knicks wouldn't have won in recent years, especially on the road during a losing streak. It's the first time they've even swept a California road trip of three games or more.
With everything going in the right direction right now, this is the time for the Knicks to step up and play consistently. They have two straight games against the Charlotte Bobcats starting Tuesday and they should at least split, if not win both.
The Knicks are surprisingly a winning road team with a 5-4 record, but are only 1-4 at home and they must improve on that immediately starting Tuesday night. With Raymond Felton on fire and pumped to face his former team, the Knicks must start winning at the Garden.
If they can take advantage of this next stretch of games and start winning at home, they could finally reach the playoffs in a very weak Eastern Conference where even the Miami Heat are only 8-6.
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