The rollercoaster of a season continues for the New York Knicks.
What seemed like a hopelessly lost season just a week ago has turned into a revitalizing one. Since the Mike Woodson era began, Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks (22-24) have displayed the type of defensive effort that was never present when Mike D’Antoni was still around, and the results have been astoundingly good.
The Knicks take their renewed energy and a four-game winning streak into the Wells Fargo Center for a revenge game against the Philadelphia 76ers as the Atlantic Division rivals meet for the final time this season in Wednesday’s best game.
The two teams met just 10 days ago, when Evan Turner and the Sixers (26-20) went into Madison Square Garden and punked the Knicks, 106-94. Turner had 24 points and a season-high 15 rebounds while Lou Williams hit impossible shots on his way to 28 points.
Anthony led New York with 22 points and nine rebounds but missed his final seven shots and was benched along with Amare Stoudemire for the fourth quarter by D’Antoni, who lasted just one more game.
The teams have split their two meetings this season, both at MSG. First-place Philadelphia is four games in front of third-place New York in the Atlantic Division.
With a difficult schedule ahead, columnist Moke Hamilton stated the Knicks should not expect to make the playoffs. However, there is reason for optimism after they have won their last four games by an average margin of 22.5 points while holding three of those teams under 90 points.
Despite the belief that Linsanity would end when Woodson took over, Jeremy Lin has played well. He is averaging 16.6 points on 55% shooting with five rebounds, seven assists and just 2.6 turnovers in his last three games.
J.R Smith – a distraction more than an asset under D’Antoni – has also found a rhythm, averaging 15.3 points in his last four games.
After beating New York, Philadelphia went on a three-game skid against some of the East’s top teams before beating up the lowly Charlotte Bobcats on Monday.
Turner – who went on a torrid four-game run averaging 21.8 points 10.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists one game after being inserted into the starting lineup – has cooled off considerably, averaging just 8.3 points and 5.6 rebounds in the last three games.
Backcourt mate Jrue Holiday – averaging 13.8 points and 4.4 assists on the season – struggled in the previous game against the Knicks, shooting just 2-of-14. He has caught fire the past two games, scoring 50 points on 52.5% shooting.