Despite the pressures of being the NBA's lone remaining undefeated team, the Knicks proved they were up to the task of defeating the Mavericks on Friday night.
The team continued rolling, taking down Dallas, by a score of 104-94, to improve to 4-0 this season.
However, though the Knicks earned their previous first few victories in dominating fashion, the Mavericks proved to be quite the different opponent.
Dallas certainly put up enough of a fight to keep the Knicks on their toes throughout the game. A chippy matchup by any measure, players were barking, elbows were flailing, and technicals were distributed.
To win the game, gritty efforts were needed by a number of Knickerbockers, but plenty of them did enough to deliver. Despite not shooting well, Raymond Felton ran the floor nicely and distributed the ball to his teammates throughout the early goings of the game. It was his steady playmaking that helped his team's offense get started on the right foot. He finished with 9 assists.
But as it has been the case in the Knicks' other victories, the team's defensive intensity helped hold the Mavericks down the most. With Felton running the show on offense, Kidd's attention was honed in on the defensive end. The veteran guard came up with three steals, many of which ended up translating to points on the other side of the court for the Knicks.
Kidd may not be racking up the assists on the stat-sheet, but he's a player who's connecting the dots better than anybody on the squad. He's leading the way, guiding this team to making right decisions over and over. No one will ever blame the Knicks for making too many passes. Ball movement will eventually lead to something good on offense again and again.
Players like Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith were once again the beneficiaries of their floor generals' good ball distribution. The Syracuse product is playing with a certain amount of swagger, letting the momentum carry him on offense.
Playing like a true scoring assassin, Anthony poured in 31 points, pulling up for tough jumpers and knocking them down constantly. The star struggled to sink his free throws, though, which allowed to Mavs to stick around as long as they did.
But Smith was at Anthony's aid to help put Dallas away for good. In addition to grabbing a team-high four steals of his own, the swingman also added 22 points. He has also been able to score with ease, but Smith has been playing at a special level, thus far, with better instincts than the Knicks saw from him last season.
Talking about a player who competes well on both sides of the floor, it's impossible not to recognize Ronnie Brewer's efforts as of late. The guard continued his strong start to the season, knocking down a couple of long-range bombs and helping pace New York's defensive effort too. He finished with 13 points.
The Knicks will have the weekend to enjoy their still perfect ready, and will then head into Orlando to face the Magic on Tuesday evening.