During his tenure with the New York Knicks, Coach Mike D'Antoni's philosophy was always that if a team does its best to simply outscore an opponent, they'll be fine.
Unfortunately, that same philosophy worked better for the Knicks of new Thursday night, than it ever did for the Knicks of old.
After soaring out the gates with all guns blazing, New York outscored the D'Antoni-led Lakers by a score of 41-27 in the first quarter alone. From there, the Knicks never appeared to look back.
Not once losing the lead in the highly-hyped contest, Coach Mike Woodson's boys went on to win the game by a final score of 116-107.
Clearly jumping in front from the word go, the Knicks were led by Carmelo Anthony's 30 points. The forward added 20 of those points in the game's first period. The dynamic duo of Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler also came through in the clutch, fooling Los Angeles' defense again and again with the pick and roll. The pair connected on an array of alley-oops and other high-flying dunks, as Felton continued to draw Dwight Howard outside, only to dish the ball back inside to Chandler. The floor general had 18 points and 8 assists, and the big man added 19 points of his own.
Collectively, the trio of notable Knickerbockers toyed with the Lakers' players throughout the contest. But the momentum wasn't quite in their favor for the whole thing.
As he attacked the basket in hope of an easy bucket in the third quarter, Anthony was victim to a hard foul, and hit the floor even harder. In visible pain after the falter, it was later determined that the Knicks' star sprained his left ankle. While his status for the team's next contest is currently in question, Anthony took precaution and didn't return against the Lakers.
The Lakers pounced on offense, just when the Knicks were struggling to once again get a rhythm going (this time without Anthony). The opponent outscored New York in both of the game's final quarters. New York was struggling to hit its stride, and in the process, allowed the Lakers to close the gap to single-digits.
But with the pressure to hold onto the lead as serious as ever, a couple of players came through when the Knicks needed them most. Clearly a player who can swing the momentum in his team's favor in quite a hurry, Steve Novak sunk a few shots from long range to expand the lead once more. He finished with 12 points off the bench.
From there, J.R. Smith was the one who did his best Carmelo Anthony impression late in the game. With his team feeding him the ball with time going down, Smith poured in the points during the contest's final quarter. He finished with 18 points, ultimately being most helpful in his team securing the victory.
The Knicks are now 17-5, including 9-0 at home. While putting the beat down on weaker teams is always fun to watch, defeating a team like the Lakers is more of a statement game. The Knicks proved that not only can they play well against a talented team, but they also now have a killer instinct to put them away.
Though it almost came down to the wire, New York knew they needed to keep their foot down on the Lakers' neck. Without a thorough instinct and that same type of effort, such a victory would have escaped New York like it used to.
Clearly, this season is different. The Knickerbockers have a different "Mike' (no longer D'Antoni) to thank for instilling such a mentality.