In most recent years, the Knicks have left fans hanging their heads in disappointment as New York continued to fail at beating the worse-off teams in the league. Despite the evident talent on rosters of the past, no clutch gene was consistently found in such squads, as the Knicks were left losing to teams they should have and could have defeated on a nightly basis.
But the 2012-13 season continues to be different than a bevy of others in recent memory for the Knickerbockers. This campaign instead draws ongoing parallels to successful teams of the past, undoubtedly with good reason.
New York put some of those very reasons on display Monday night, as the team defeated the Pistons for what was their fifth straight victory at home by a score of 99-85.
Able to set a dominating tone early on in the contest, the Knicks were propelled by the strong early efforts of Carmelo Anthony. After taking it easy in his team's win over the Kings this past Saturday, the forward returned to his efficient scoring ways, adding 19 points (on his way to 27 total) in the first half alone.
The Knicks pulled ahead of the younger and weaker Pistons squad by double-digits in the game's first quarter, and never looked back. Though they did waver a bit to start the second half, the lead New York had built early on was enough to last them the rest of the night.
And that's what rising up as a contender is all about. In addition to setting ongoing goals for themselves, one of which has continuously been to protect home court and enforce such an advantage, the Knicks know full well that losses to some of the NBA's poorer teams is unacceptable this season. Such losses can and would undoubtedly become the difference between a contender like the Heat, and a pretender who otherwise lets those noted victories slip away.
Alas, by finishing their homes-stand on the highest of notes, the Knicks knew better to come out victorious against Detroit. The home team went on to earn a victory by allowing their better talents to simply play to their strengths and do what they do best.
As noted earlier, Anthony's efficient offensive manner was what truly helped the Knicks set the tone for the rest of the game. But the team's balanced effort was further stamped by a varied amount of other contributions.
Quickly emerging as as the "two" in a strong one-two punch that is he and Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire continued to make strides while coming off the bench. The big man continues to work his way inside and have his way with opposing defenses. Putting on display an explosive physicality around the basket, STAT delivered quite the notable spark for his team by adding 20 points on 8 of 14 from the field.
Proving that the Knicks still truly ride or die by the three-point bomb, J.R. Smith, Jason Kidd, and Steve Novak were a combined 8 for 25 from long range. Though Kidd struggled, Smith and Novak confidently knocked down shots to help pace their team's offense throughout the game. Where the Knicks may have struggled from deep, their post-players picked up the slack to give the team a more balanced effort to keep the Pistons' defense on its toes.
A number of different Knicks' players seem to excel against Detroit. There's no doubt about that. That said, there's no one player more deserving than Tyson Chandler to get all the credit in the world for his efforts on both sides of the court during this most recent successful stretch.
Tying an all-time Knickerbocker record, the big man propelled himself into the team's history books by logging his third consecutive 20 rebound outing. Such an accomplishment is one that is clearly not easily matched, but also impressive was Chandler's offensive contribution. His 8 points may not seem like a lot on the surface, but when you consider the fact that they all come in the flow of the offense, it's quite the helpful stat. Chandler certainly has Raymond Felton to thank for that. The point guard did his own part to help his team by dishing out 9 dimes.
There's no overlooking that the Pistons are a lowly team in a time of transition at this point. Coming away with a victory against Detroit should not be overly celebrated by the Knicks. That said, the fact that New York keeps winning the right way should be. The team's most recent efforts as of late are simply proof that the team is using these games as tune-ups for something much more meaningful in the future.