On December 18th, the Knicks suffered a embarrassing over time loss at the hands of the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers. This was a gimme game, after coming off back to back defeats to the Celtics and Heat, and New York managed to give it away. In the 10 games since the Cleveland game, the Knicks have rebounded to go 6-4. However when you factor in how tough that span was, it becomes more impressive. Of those 10 games, 6 were on the road, including 3 against three of the league’s best teams: the Heat, the Magic, and the Lakers. New York dropped all three of those games, as well as their last one against Utah. However they won in Phoenix & Portland, and also had victories at home against Oklahoma, Chicago, and the Spurs. Other than the Pacers there were no easy games.
Looking back at those last 10 games, the Knicks were successful on both offense & defense. If you understand the Four Factors, you know that shooting (measured by eFG%) is the most important aspect of winning any single game. Seven times they shot better than 50% eFG, and six times they held their opponent under 50% (Miami shot exactly 50%, and are not included). When comparing the factors for each game, the Knicks won every one of their 6 games where they had the advantage in eFG%, and lost the 4 that their opponents shot better. In their 6 wins they had the turnover advantage 4 times, and the lead in rebounds and free throws only twice. In 3 of their 4 losses they forced more turnovers than they allowed, and only once did they hold the edge from the charity stripe.
Ironically the team has done half of their damage without one of their key players. Danilo Gallinari has been injured since January 2nd, right in the middle of this streak. Reclamation project Shawne Williams has picked up the slack averaging 26 minutes per game of that stretch. “Extra-E” has done his best Rooster impersonation, nailing 21 of 44 three pointers (47.7%) in that span. Also Bill Walker has begun to contribute. The Knick forward has seen double digit minutes in the last 6 games, after seeing only single digit minutes in the 6 prior. Like Williams, Walker has been hot from downtown nailing 20 of his last 37 (54%).