The New York Knicks overcame the loss of their center with a 123-110 defeat of the reeling Philadelphia 76ers at Madison Square Garden Monday night.
With the win, the Knicks' win streak is extended to four. And they're doing so in convincing fashion. Over the past four games the team's average margin of victory is 15.5 points. It also marked the 17th straight loss for the Sixers, three shy of the franchise-record for losses in a single season.
After trailing by five after the first quarter, New York outscored Philly 97-79 the rest of the contest. And they did so with a balanced offense. No longer is Carmelo Anthony running the show. As we saw after the All-Star Break when 'Melo averaged 41.3 points per game and the team went 1-3, the burden cannot fall solely on one superstar.
The Knicks (25-40) offense was in rare form. Five different players -- Carmelo Anthony, Amare' Stoudemire, Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. -- all scored more than 20 points. The last time the team had four 20-plus-point scorers was in April 17, 2012, when the Anthony, Smith, Chandler and Steve Novak did so against the Boston Celtics.
"I love nights like this," Anthony said. "Four guys with 20-plus points. Sharing the ball. Making plays. Having fun out there. Taking the load off me. I love nights like that."
Since the beginning of March, Stoudemire has been a consistent offensive contributor. He's averaged 17.3 points per game over the past six games and is shooting better than 64 percent from the floor. His 23 points against the 76ers matches a season high, last reached against the Toronto Raptops on Dec. 28, 2013.
Also playing a major role was the rookie. Hardaway's 28 points was one point shy of his career-high mark.
"It feels great, said Stat, who had 23 points. "I have been working extremely hard to get back to my normal self. My confidence is there. It never left."
"Everyone was moving the ball and taking open shots," added Hardaway, who scored 13 points over the final 12 minutes. "'Stat' got us going. J.R. was getting going and then Pablo (Prigioni) and everybody started finding me, so I just wanted to get myself going."
The 123 points scored was the highest the team put up since a victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Jan. 24, 2013. New York has averaged 114.0 points per game during this four-game stretch, about 16 points per game more than the team's season average (98.4).