The NBA: This is NOT a joke – The Knicks Are Unbeaten

Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks continue to rise
after beating the Orlando Magic.
(image by John Raoux/AP)
The New York Knicks, essentially the same Knicks who go booted in the first round of the 2012 Playoffs and who are missing the services of Amar’e Stoudemire and sophomore Iman Shumpert, have beaten Miami, Philadelphia (twice), Dallas, and Orlando.

Win number 5 makes New York the only unbeaten team in the league, but perhaps even more surprising is how they’ve beaten their opponents.  They beat Miami by 20, Philly by 16 at home and then 22 on the road, Dallas by 10, and now Orlando also by 10.

This 5-0 start is the Knicks’ best in almost 20 years, and a big part of this is their commitment on the defensive end.

“Our defense is right where it needs to be," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "So when we do have to get stops, we were able to get it done."

New York forced Orlando to commit 7 turnovers and miss 11 of its 16 shots in the fourth quarter. This resulted in the Magic producing a measly 13 points in the period, which effectively sealed their doom.

Another big reason for New York’s rise is the impressive play of Carmelo Anthony. Melo netted 16 points before halftime against Orlando, helping the Knicks stay within striking distance before JR Smith rallied them in the third period. Anthony, who was a vital cog in Team USA’s romp through the 2012 FIBA Worlds, leads New York in points (26.8) and rebounds (7.4) per game. Both of those stats are the highest Melo has put up since putting on a Knickerbocker jersey.

But that’s not even the best thing about it. Throughout this brilliant beginning to the season, it seems Anthony’s stellar play has helped light a fire in his teammates as well. Backcourt partners JR Smith and Raymond Felton are norming a combined 32 points, 8 rebounds, and nearly 10 assists per game, while Tyson Chandler, Rasheed Wallace, and Steve Novak have all done well rotating in the frontcourt.

"My focus level now is really high,” said Anthony after their latest win. “I know what I want for myself and this team. It starts with me to lead us on both ends of the floor. It is carrying over to everyone else."

Melo is right on the money there, and he’ll definitely need to remain focused as the Knicks take on a tough sked in their immediate future. They visit San Antonio and Memphis in a tough back-to-back that should really show us what NYK is made of. Should New York win those two games, they will tie the 7-0 start they enjoyed in 1993 – now that’s definitely no joke.

Game Recaps (courtesy of the Sports Network):
New York 99, Orlando 89
Led by Carmelo Anthony's 25 points, the New York Knicks downed the Orlando Magic, 99-89, to remain the NBA's lone undefeated team. Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith poured in 21 apiece for the Knicks, who are 5-0 for the third time in team history and the first time since the 1993-94 season. Tyson Chandler added 12 points and six rebounds for New York, which has won each of its games by double digits. Seven players for Orlando scored in double figures, with J.J. Reddick leading the way with 18 points. Nikola Vucevic posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards, while Arron Afflalo finished with 13 points, five assists and four rebounds for the Magic, who have now lost five games in a row.

The Knicks remain as the only unbeaten team in the NBA.
(image by Fernando Medina/Getty Images)

Toronto 74, Indiana 72
The Toronto Raptors nearly blew another double-digit lead to the Indiana Pacers, but survived five potential game- tying or go-ahead shots in the final 22.9 seconds to come away with a 74-72 victory. The Raptors, coming off a triple-overtime loss to the Jazz on Monday, played front-runner most of the night, then shot a pitiful 1-of-15 from the field in the fourth quarter. The dreadful showing allowed the Pacers to pull within two points down the stretch, but David West, Paul George and George Hill all missed in the closing seconds to give Toronto its first road win of the season and second overall. Jose Calderon posted his first career triple- double with 13 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds while DeMar DeRozan scored 15 points for the Raptors, who have blown four double-digits leads this season, including in its season opener against the Pacers. Hill, the hero in that Oct. 31 contest with a late bucket, scored a game-high 18 points in defeat.

Charlotte 92, Washington 76
Ramon Sessions netted a game-high 21 points and pulled down five rebounds as the Charlotte Bobcats downed the Washington Wizards, 92-76, Tuesday at Time Warner Cable Arena. Kemba Walker poured in 17 points and No. 2 overall draft pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist contributed 15 points and eight boards for Charlotte, which snapped a five-game skid against Washington. Tyrus Thomas donated 10 points in a winning cause. Washington's Trevor Ariza scored a team-high 19 points to go with six rebounds. He was the only player to score in double figures for the Wizards, who fell to 0-6 for the second consecutive season. Emeka Okafor added eight points and nine boards in the setback.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist tries an air reverse
against Emeka Okafor.
(image by Chuck Burton/AP)

Brooklyn 114, Cleveland 101
Deron Williams had 26 points and 10 assists and the Brooklyn Nets used a big second quarter to record a 114-101 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Barclays Center. Joe Johnson scored nine of his 25 points in a second period in which Brooklyn outscored the Cavaliers by a 35-12 count before holding on for its third consecutive victory. Brook Lopez added 23 points for the Nets, who shot a solid 54.5 percent from the field and led by as many as 24 in the second half. Cleveland closed out a six-game road trip with its fourth loss in a row despite tremendous individual performances from Anderson Varejao and Kyrie Irving. Varejao poured in a career-high 35 points while pulling down 18 rebounds, with Irving also establishing a personal best with 34 points to go along with eight assists.

Portland 103, Sacramento 86
Damian Lillard tallied 22 points and nine assists in the Portland Trail Blazers' 103-86 rout of the Sacramento Kings. Wesley Matthews had 18 points, LaMarcus Aldridge added 16 and J.J. Hickson recorded 10 points and 13 rebounds for Portland, which snapped its four-game losing streak. Nicolas Batum registered 15 points and seven boards in the win. James Johnson netted 16 points to lead the Kings, who have lost three straight contests.

San Antonio 84, LA Lakers 82
The San Antonio Spurs gave Bernie Bickerstaff his first loss as the Lakers' interim head coach, as Danny Green drained a go-ahead 3-pointer with 9.3 seconds remaining in a tight 84-82 decision over Los Angeles at Staples Center. Tim Duncan finished with 18 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks, Tony Parker added 19 points and seven assists and Green netted 11 points for the Spurs, who went 3-1 on their road trip. Bryant shot an efficient 12-of-19 from the field for 28 points and added eight assists in the setback. Pau Gasol missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds.

Danny Green hit the go-ahead three with
9.3 ticks to go against the Lakers.
(image by Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)

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