The New York Knicks passed a big test last night with a rousing, comeback win over the San Antonio Spurs, but there's no time to celebrate. The NBA's lone unbeaten team once again will be put to the test on Friday as they meet up with another of the West's top sides, the Memphis Grizzlies.
A lot of sports fans and media talk about "statement games", and whether or not you believe in them, there's no question that the Knicks' win on Thursday said something about their depth, experience and leadership. While in past years when Carmelo Anthony may have let a poor shooting game affect his mood, a renewed Anthony played one of his best overall games since coming to the Knicks despite making just three shots and scoring nine points. Anthony had 12 rebounds, played solid defense and had three assists - not including the many "hockey assists" he had. On Friday, Anthony will have another tough test on both sides of the floor, as he'll be matched up with Zach Randolph for most of the night. Anthony may have to eschew his offense for another night, something he's proven is possible even if it doesn't often happen.
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The Knicks aren't 6-0 without the spectacular and steady play of their back court. Raymond Felton had made teams pay for making him beat them, and Jason Kidd has been critical in fourth quarters all season, none bigger than Thursday. J.R. Smith continues to provide offense off the bench, and he's coming off hitting probably the most clutch shot of his career with the go-ahead 3-pointer last night.
The Knicks may be pretty gassed after last night. That would be acceptable for any team, let alone the league's oldest team. Even with a week's worth of rest, the task of shutting down Randolph, Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay is a tough one.
But the days of simply stating that the Knicks are "off to a hot start" are over. The league must now recognize that the Knicks are a very good basketball team, one of the league's best. That will remain true whether they're 7-0 or 6-1 on Saturday morning.