Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Melo Anthony and Jeremy Lin led the New York Knicks in their fifth straight win, this one 82-79 against the Philadelphia 76ers, on Wednesday night.
The Knicks have been a winning streak ever since Mike D'Antoni was replaced as coach by Mike Woodson. If Linsanity is over, Knicks fans are quickly coming down with a new form of hero worship, 'Woodsanity.'
Considering the results Woodson has delivered since stepping in to coach a team on a six-game losing streak, he may have already cemented his claim to the position. Woodson has overcome New York's problems by emphasizing strong defensive play, which provides his players with the intensity and courage they were sorely lacking under D'Antoni. The new coach has also reorganized New York's offensive strategy. Although Lin is still the team's anchor and playmaker, the emphasis on scoring has been rightly switched to Melo and Stoudemire.
Amare Stoudemire led New York in points Wednesday, scoring 21 and hitting eight of 14 shots from the field in 39 minutes of play. Jeremy Lin played for 35 minutes, scoring 18 points, three assists and five rebounds. Carmelo Anthony scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds in 33 minutes of play. Landry Fields and J.R. Smith both contributed eight points.
The key to the Knicks victory against the Sixers was total rebound domination. Stoudemire grabbed a team high nine rebounds (out of a total 47 for the night against Philadelphia's 39). Sixers co-owner Will Smith was on hand to watch the game, as was perennial Knicks booster Spike Lee.
Will Smith And I at Sixers vs. Knicks Game Here In Rockin' Philly. It's ON. GO NY GO, tweeted Lee, linking to a photo of the two opposing fans posing together.
The Sixers had a terrible start, missing their first 14 shots including an airball, and committing five turnovers in the first quarter. The result was an early double-digit lead for the Knicks. Philadelphia made a final run in the fourth quarter but never took the lead. The comeback bid reached its crescendo when Lou Williams came off the bench to hit a three-pointer, tying up the score at 63-63. The Knicks quickly pulled ahead again, however, thanks to a dunk from Stoudemire.
In the final two minutes before the buzzer, New York led by a mere three points. Elton Brand blocked a shot by Lin, resulting in a failed fast break attempt by Andre Iguodala. As the game drew to a close, Stoudemire hit a pair of baskets to clinch the win. Fans who had traveled to Philadelphia to cheer on their team shouted, Let's go Knicks!
The victory places the Knicks firmly in playoff territory within the Eastern Conference, while the 76ers' loss, their third in a row, will cause them to slide in the opposite direction. The Knicks' success in the playoffs, assuming they make it that far, may boil down to avoiding the stronger teams -- the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat -- for as long as possible.
Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Jeremy Lin and the rest of the Knicks will play the Raptors in Toronto on Friday after decisively beating them by 29 points last Tuesday night.
Full Game Video Highlights:
Post-game Interview with Coach Woodson: