By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
KNICKS 92, MAVERICKS 80 | AMERICAN AIRLINES ARENA
How it Happened:
After losing a game they felt they should've won against the Rockets on Friday, the Knicks showed up in Dallas determined to finish their vaunted trip through the Texas Triangle strong. After a blazing hot start and stout play on the defensive end, they put themselves in position for an improbable second win in three chances.
By margin of victory, it was the most convincing performance of the trip. By virtue of following such promising performances in San Antonio and then Houston, it serves as real reason for optimism as the Knicks return home looking to keep building momentum.
Tonight's triumph came early, you could argue, after Carmelo Anthony established a tone in the 1st quarter that Dallas would never be able to match. Not only did the Knicks' star produce 15 points, four rebounds and three assists in the opening frame, but he made quick decisions and moved the ball in a way his teammates could easily follow.
Despite losing Tyson Chandler to an upper respiratory infection just minutes in, New York led by 12 points after one. For the third straight game, they had given themselves a chance to compete against a Western Conference playoff team.
As Dallas keyed on Anthony -- Melo would connect on just one field goal past the 1st quarter -- his teammates began to step up. Taking cues from Melo's "keep-it-simple" approach, Andrea Bargnani found his sweet spot around the free throw line and methodically carved up the Mavericks, shooting 5-for-8 in the first half.
As the offense flowed -- Knicks ball movement produced 15 assists in the first half -- the defense buckled down, holding the Mavs to 35 points on 36 percent shooting over the first 24 minutes.
With Chandler out, Kenyon Martin was pressed into starting duty coming out of halftime, and he proceeded to pump in six straight points to extend the lead. Martin would finish the 3rd quarter with 10 points and go on to score 14, a season high, in 29 minutes.
As Dallas chipped away, a lead as big as 19 got as small as six in the last few minutes, but New York refused to go away. Tim Hardaway Jr. made big shots, finishing with 10 on the night. And once again, Iman Shumpert was a difference maker. Following games of 27 and 26 points, his athletic reverse layup and clutch 3-pointer with less than two minutes left helped put the game out of reach.
Knick of the Night:
Carmelo Anthony wins this award for the impact he had on his team as a leader. Not only did he dish out five assists on the game, but he went out of his way to encourage his teammates and get everyone involved.
The Knicks return to New York to start preparing for Detroit at the Garden on Tuesday night.