Following New York’s seventh consecutive defeat on March 3, the team ranked No. 27 in the league in average first quarter margin at -2.0. Additionally, the Knicks were only averaging 23.9 first quarter points per game.
In the six wins, New York blasted out of the gate by averaging 32 first quarter points and burying its opponents early by averaging a first quarter margin of +8. The change in mindset has paid dividends for the Knicks against teams with less talent to establish dominance from the opening tip.
“It was all mental today…to come out and fight through the early start to create energy and momentum to start the game,” Carmelo Anthony stated after a win over Milwaukee on Saturday afternoon.
There’s an important part of the equation to remember when evaluating the recent surge in the first and second quarters for New York. Head coach Mike Woodson altered the starting lineup in Detroit by placing J.R. Smith and Amar’e Stoudemire next to Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler, and Anthony in the first five-man group. Despite a loss to the Pistons that night, the newly formed unit is playing cohesive, productive basketball. This specific starting five was featured in four of the Knicks six wins in the current streak. As of Sunday night, this crew has logged 108 minutes this season with an impressive net rating of 10.4.
“We are the anchors of the team, the captains of the team, we the stone and everyone follows,” Stoudemire said in Saturday’s locker room. “If we continue that type of play we will be successful.”