|Undefeated and full of prune juice. (Getty Images)|
6 and 0.
That's where the Knicks stand right now, as the only undefeated team left in the NBA. In a road game against the San Antonio Spurs, the New York Knicks overcame Carmelo Anthony scoring just nine points on 3-of-12 shooting by going on a furious fourth quarter run to pull out the victory. The lack of panic they displayed in the fourth, the serenity they hoisted 3-point shots with, and the timely nature of their biggest run buried the Spurs before they knew what hit them.
The Knicks are arguably the most well rounded team through the first couple weeks of the NBA season. They're the best offensive and the second best defensive team in the NBA, according to NBA.com. They shoot the second most 3-point attempts per game and make the highest percentage of those shots. The Knicks also turn the ball over the least, force the third highest turnover rate, and rarely put their opponents on the free throw line.
The Knicks aren't playing perfect basketball through their first six games, but it's really close. When the Knicks decided to turn MSG into the AARP headquarters this year by bringing in as many aged veterans as they could fine, we all made old jokes. Heck, we're still making old jokes. But as long as they're winning basketball games with short spurts from their old guys, that's all that matters.
You can see the leadership emanating throughout the lineups on the floor during the game against the Spurs. Whether it was direction from Mike Woodson, encouragement from veterans like Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace, or just pure determination by Carmelo Anthony, he turned a horrible offensive night into one of the more impressive games he's had as a Knick.
Nothing went right for Melo, and that often leads to him taking bad shots and hoping to get into a rhythm if they fall. We didn't see that version of him. What we saw was Anthony picking up his passing game, fighting for loose balls, and going after offensive boards. Melo helped grind out a victory with nearly everything that didn't involve him taking shots.
Carmelo Anthony played all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter, didn't attempt a single shot, and trusted his teammates to make things happen. And happen they did. Jason Kidd and J.R. Smith each scored nine points in the fourth. Raymond Felton scored eight points. The Knicks were led by a perimeter attack that didn't include one attempt by Anthony.
That's trusting your teammates.
After the Spurs went on a 13-5 run that included 13 straight, inexplicable points from Tiago Splitter, the Knicks erased a 12-point deficit over the next 6:37 to take a 102-95 lead. The Knicks did it with the same way the Spurs usually dismantle their opponents. They moved the ball, moved without the ball, and found themselves pelting the opposing defense with 3-point bombs.
Before you knew it, the Spurs were the ones scrambling and the Knicks had control of the lead and the win. The Knicks took solid spurts from Kidd, Smith, and even Rasheed Wallace to put together runs and stave off Spurs' rallies. They matched the Spurs' ebb and flow throughout the game, timing their final push perfectly.
People will wake up to headlines in the morning and be annoyed that the Knicks are the talk of the NBA right now. They're used to having an overrated Knicks team getting talked about, simply because they're in the bigger market.
This is not your older cousin's Knicks team. The Knicks identity of defense first is looking at its second straight season. Instead of chucking 3-pointers in a system they didn't really get last season, they're moving the ball with precision like the 2011 Dallas Mavericks team. They only turn the ball over 11 percent of their possessions, by far the lowest in the league.
The New York Knicks are no longer about flash and flare. They're about smart team concepts and players accepting their roles, no matter how big or small. We don't know if it's going to last through the season, month, or weekend. We don't know if they're actually a title contender or enjoying a pleasant start to the season.
We don't know if the eventual return of Amar'e Stoudemire will ruin the balance they have going right now.
The only thing we know is nobody has been able to solve the New York Knicks so far this season.