Give this edition of the Knicks credit so far this season. When faced with adversity and turmoil, they've responded by playing well.
Behind a vintage Carmelo Anthony performance, which saw the superstar forward score 14 consecutive points for the team in the third quarter (22 points overall), the Knicks (3-4) overcame a sluggish start to beat the Brooklyn Nets, 110-96 at the Garden.
It was the first time the Knicks held an opponent below 100 points this season and the win comes at a time where the Knicks seemingly were in the midst of some internal friction in regards to the team's offensive philosophy.
Lost in the discussion was just how brutally awful they've been defensively, and the team responded with their best defensive performance of the season.
Speaking of the offense, Anthony benefited during that stretch from several pure triangle half court sets, sparking a Knicks' run that led them back from a 67-58 deficit following a Justin Hamilton three. A pair of Anthony free throws gave the Knicks a 72-70 lead that they would never relinquish.
"It's just a feeling. It's kind of a zone you go into. I got there coming out of halftime," Anthony said. "First half I felt the shot I was taking I didn't think they were forced, I thought they were good shots. Then I got it going."
In the fourth, Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek went to an all-Euro front court with Kristaps Porzingis (21 points, eight rebounds) Willy Hernangomez and Mindaugas Kuzminskas, and they carried the offense with Anthony and Derrick Rose on the bench.
The Knicks outscored the Nets 38-25 in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. The quarter actually reminded me very much of the preseason, when Hornacek would go deeper into his bench and be rewarded for his team's solid play. The performance was by far the best of the season for Hernangomez (14 points in 14 minutes) and Kuzminskas (five points/ +23).
"He was just being Melo. He can go on a stretch where he can score 20 points in a quarter if you let him," said Rose, who finished with 14 points and four assists in 22 minutes. "Tonight we needed those points, the isolation plays. The guys on the floor saw that he had mismatch and they made sure they used it. A mismatch causes a double team that gets guys open."
It was a much-needed home win for the Knicks. They now head out on the road to play two more division rivals in Boston and Toronto on back-to-back nights Friday and Saturday before returning home to face the Mavericks on Monday.