After losing their first game of the season on Friday night to the Memphis Grizzlies, it was pretty much a given that New York would walk out of Madison Square Garden with a win on Sunday afternoon.
The Knickerbockers continued their awesome defensive play, and shook off some offensive rust throughout to come away with a 88-76 victory over the Indiana Pacers. New York improves their record to 7-1, which is good enough for best record of the NBA.
New York has yet to lose consecutive regular season games with Mike Woodson as its head coach. The are now 15-1 at home under Woodson, and are remarkable 25-7 since he took over Mike D’Antoni. Despite giving up 100 points in back to back games, the Knicks defense went back to beast mode holding Indiana to 39 percent shooting for the game.
“Guys are committed,” said Woodson. ” We came out of camp, put in position to win games, putting in effort defensively, I’m very pleased coming off a road loss. Everyone is supposed to play defense, this is a team effort.”
Carmelo Anthony led the way with 26 points and nine rebounds, and Raymond Felton added 11 points to go with nine assists as the Knicks remain undefeated at home with a 4-0 record.
“It’s all about protecting home court,” said Woodson. “We have to always win at home, teams can go somewhere else looking for a win, not here.
It was the first time all season that the Knicks had more rebounds than their opponent. They had become the first team in NBA history to win their first six games of the season and be out rebounded in all of those wins.
“We are still in learning mode, and can improve across the board on both sides of the ball,” said Woodson. ” We are still in film sessions trying to learn where we can improve.”
In a game that was pretty ugly for the most part, neither team shot 40 percent, but the Knicks built a big early lead, and were never really challenged the rest of the way.
“Today is one of those days where we had to do it on the defensive end,” said Anthony. Offensively we were trying to find it, shots that we miss that we normally make. But on defensive end for us to be in sync the way we are right now especially this early into the season.”
The team has clearly made defense their number one priority and the presence of training camp has looked to help the team with their chemistry, something they have sorely lacked since Anthony came here.
“I feel like we played together,” said Tyson Chandler. “We understand that good teams in this league win defensively. We’ve been covering for each other having each other’s backs, communicating, talking out there, and you don’t get to next level without defense.”
Chandler felt that this team may have lost if this was last season and using the travel as an excuse.
“Last year, we really didn’t have a true training camp and time to put things together,” said Chandler. This year we have had a decent schedule to implement some things and strategies.”
Chandler had a solid game with nine rebounds, five on the offensive glass and Ronnie Brewer’s eight points in a 5 minute span in the third quarter helped keep the Knicks ahead of the game when the Pacers played their best ball. The point guard trio of Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni combined to shoot 5-23 for 14 points, they still added 14 assists and four rebounds to contribute to the victory.
“Everybody believes they can pass,” said Kidd. “I think we understand that the pass had led to easy baskets. Everybody feels that they can find the open guy. When you have guys out there that can move the ball somebody is going to get an open look.”
New York will travel to New Orleans for the first of a three-game road trip on Tuesday night against the Hornets. They will follow with trips to Dallas and a reunion with Jeremy Lin at Houston next Friday night.