5 Biggest Difference Makers in NY Knicks Incredible Turnaround

Ethan Norof@ethan_norofCorrespondent IMarch 23, 2012

5 Biggest Difference Makers in NY Knicks Incredible Turnaround

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    The New York Knicks have won five straight games under Mike Woodson and will look to make it six straight when the team takes on the Toronto Raptors.

    Prior to Woodson's takeover, the Knicks had lost six straight games, and the idea of this team competing for a postseason spot was quickly flying out the window.

    Now the script has been flipped once again on Broadway with the Knicks playing well, and the team will look to get back to .500 with another win on Friday evening.

J.R. Smith

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    Since joining the Knicks after spending part of the season balling in China, J.R. Smith has enjoyed mixed results.

    However, Smith has been a much larger contributor since Mike D'Antoni resigned.

    Smith has hit double digits in four of his last five games and will have to be a big contributor off the bench if the Knicks are to sustain their recent success for the long haul.

Jared Jeffries

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    Jared Jeffries used to be a popular target of boos in Madison Square Garden, but that hasn't been the case too often this season.

    His contributions won't leap out in the box score, nor will he get the credit that he deserves, but Jeffries is an excellent defender and the consummate "glue guy" in New York's second unit.

    Jeffries won't play on Friday and is expected to get an MRI on his injured knee. An extended absence could have a real impact on the Knicks.

Carmelo Anthony

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    Carmelo Anthony hasn't scored over 17 points since the Knicks started ripping off victories, but that doesn't mean he isn't contributing.

    He's very clearly playing harder on the defensive end of the court, and he basically hinted to the idea that he's putting out a more complete effort for Mike Woodson than he did for Mike D'Antoni.

    The rest of Anthony's season will certainly be interesting to monitor, and the spotlight is now squarely on him with D'Antoni out of town and the Knicks finding a way to win without him scoring in bunches.

Amar'e Stoudemire

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    Amar'e Stoudemire has been a different player since Mike Woodson took over as head coach.

    Stoudemire has showed explosiveness that we haven't seen from him all season, and he's really coming on at the right time for the Knicks.

    The $100 million man has shot 16-of-27 over his last two games with averages of 21.5 points and 10.5 rebounds—the type of production New York expected when signing him to an insanely lucrative contract.

Mike Woodson

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    Give credit where it's due: The Knicks are listening to Mike Woodson, and he's thriving in a situation where many thought he'd have no chance to do so.

    He's preaching accountability, and it seems to be working, as everyone appears to be very receptive to his message in the early part of his tenure as head coach.

    He's got strong ideas and beliefs as to what he wants to do on both ends of the court, and it's helping the Knicks form a solid identity when many thought this New York club simply didn't have one.

    It's been a roller-coaster season for the Knicks, but Woodson has the team undoubtedly trending in the right direction.