When the Knicks blew past the Heat at home on what became opening night, many attributed the team's early season victory to New York's desire to win for its fans. Following Hurricane Sandy, the momentum was in the Knicks' favor as they looked to give New Yorkers something to cheer about.
That was the first game of a long season in which the Knicks undoubtedly have a lot to prove. Their roster filled with older players as they have already been forced to overcome injuries to key contributors, there's been a lot of doubt surrounding the team's potential for the long campaign.
Though the Knicks look good now, the question remains, will they be around come the later months of the season? Can this team do enough to stay competitive with the better teams in the league?
After steady wins against teams like Miami and the Spurs to start off the season, it certainly seems like they can. But following a game in which the Knickerbockers struggled to keep up with the Bobcats on Wednesday night, almost letting a victory slip out of reach, it's obvious consistently will be the key. Are the Knicks for real?
If one win over the Heat wasn't already enough to convince anyone of that, how about two victories in dominating fashion, instead?
No Carmelo Anthony on Thursday evening proved to be no problem for the Knicks, who jumped out on Miami early and never looked back. New York came away with a 112-92 win.
After shooting 41 shots from downtown against the Bobcats, the Knicks continued to let the bombs fly in South Beach. New York threw up 44 shots from long range, connecting on an ever impressive 41% of their attempts.
And the beauty of this one was that everyone seemed to join in on the fun. Without Anthony, Raymond Felton emerged as the leader for his squad and set the tone. The floor general drained six shots from deep and worked the pick and roll well enough to find his teammates inside for easier buckets, too. He finished with a team-high 27 points and 7 assists.
The rest of Felton's teammates followed suit, as Steve Novak continued to make sure he gets revenge against Miami this season following a less than stellar playoff series last spring. The forward added 18 points off the bench for what was his second-highest points total of the season.
A strong effort by Felton usually means an elevated one from Tyson Chandler as well, and Thursday's game was no different. The big man continued to cash in on easy opportunities inside, cleaning up on the glass not only to keep possessions alive, but to also shut down Miami. He finished with 13 points and 9 boards.
The Knicks' received a balanced effort from the entire squad throughout the contest. J.R. Smith, Jason Kidd, and Rasheed Wallace all also scored in double-figures. James White and Pablo Prigioni added 7 points a piece off the bench, simply pouring in the points in the flow of their team's offense.
The team's offense was phenomenal, but in the end, the Knicks also happened to thrive on what Coach Woodson continues to preach will be key to their success: defense.
In addition to out-rebounding Miami, the Knicks completely shut down Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who missed 10 and 9 shots, respectively. LeBron James' play was stellar as usual, but without much help, the Knicks cooled down the Heat.
The ongoing question this season will remain, are the Knicks for real? Even now with a 14-4 record, the Knicks may still have some more convincing to do as the long campaign progresses. There's still a long way to go before the postseason comes.
But at the very least, perhaps the Heat have become believers by now. On to the next one.