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Monday’s Weekly Knicks Notes: Week 7

December 6, 2010 – Kevin Burke

Pardon me, while I deviate from the usual format of Monday’s Weekly Knicks Notes, but it’s only fitting because things are anything but usual in Knicks country these days. This just in: The Knicks are for real. With yesterday’s win in Toronto, that gave the Knicks their 9th road win of the season, which is tops in the NBA. They are one of the hottest teams in the league, winning 9 of their last 10 and their leader, Amar’e Stoudemire, has quietly become worth the money in which he signed for in July.

Granted, their overall record is 12 – 9 but when you consider the fact that they haven’t been this far above .500, this late in the season since Lenny Wilkens was the coach, it’s significant. Since we last “spoke”, the Knicks beat the Nets, Hornets and Raptors, while 2 of those 3 came on the road. I thought it was a given that they would beat the Nets and Raptors(which they did), but I wasn’t sure about the Hornets game. The Hornets got off to a hot start this season, winning their first 8 games including 11 of their first 12. I had a feeling that they would come back to Earth some and they have to a degree.  But still, they are a solid team.

The game in New Orleans was big because so far the Knicks have been criticized for not playing a tough schedule in this young season so far, which has attributed to so many wins so early for them. I’m not sure that’s true, nor am I sure that the Knicks’ fault since they are playing the hand their dealt. Many regard the Hornets as legit, and the Knicks were able to handle them on their court. I’ve you’ve tuned in to these Weekly Knicks updates, you’ll know that Knicks shoot 3s as if they are going to expire on December 31, 2010. In this game they tossed up 30, but they actually seemed in rhythm as hard as that is to believe.

Amar’e Stoudemire had 34 and 10 in this game and has raised his scoring average to where I think it should be. But coming into this game, I was looking to see how the PG matchup would go. Chris Paul vs. Raymond Felton. This past summer, the Knicks were rumored to pick up Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony in order to form their own “Big 3.” Paul had 17 points and 10 assists, while Felton had 17 points and 13 assists. Later on in the week, I’ll get into why the Knicks don’t need Paul, and that’s just a little glimpse.

Earlier in December, Landry Fields was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for November. Not John Wall. Not Evan Turner. Landry Fields.  He’s playing like the eventual Rookie of the Year runner-up (because Blake Griffin has that thing on lock). From day 1, he’s been the starter as a Rookie for a team that plays in New York and has exceeded expectations. Both mine, and probably his as well. He has had a 21 and 17 game this year and hustles on every play. He’s extremely athletic and does just about everything well. He was truly one of the hidden gems from the Draft. He’s averaging 11 points and 7 boards, but he’s one of those guys where the stat sheet simply doesn’t tell the whole story.

I know it’s still early in the season, but as of right now, for the first time in a long time, the Knicks are not a punch line. They are to those who don’t know much about the team and knock the Knicks simply because it’s cool to do so. But to those who are paying attention, they’re playing like one of the best teams in the league right now. I didn’t say they are one of the best teams, but they’re playing like it. Subtle difference.

The Knicks are 3rd in the entire NBA in scoring with 107.1 point per game. The bad thing is that they give up about 105.7 a game. That’s obviously something to improve on, but that number has gone down over the past weeks, as the hot streak has gone on.

Shawne Williams has been a pleasant surprise lately, but I would still like to see some more Bill Walker. Am I alone on that?

This week
On the schedule this week, the Knicks host the T’Wolves tonight, host the Raptors Wednesday, at Washington on Friday and back home for Denver on Sunday.  Earlier in the season, the Knicks lost to Minnesota in a game that they had no business losing. I look for them to avenge that loss. The Raptors and Wizards can’t mess with the Knicks (2-0 against the Raptors so far and 1-0 against Washington), and Denver will give them fits.  They lost 120-118 to the Nuggets a few weeks ago in Denver, so they kept it close. For whatever reason, the Knicks have been playing bad a home, so I think they’ll drop that game against Denver. I think they’ll go 3-1 this week. I’ll fill you in next week.

Housekeeping:
Record: 12 – 9 (3 – 5 Home. 9 – 4 Away)
Streak: W4
2nd place in the Atlantic Division
6th place in the Eastern Conference

Team Leaders:
Points: Amar’e Stoudemire, 24.9
Rebounds: Amar’e Stoudemire, 9
Assists: Raymond Felton, 8.3
Steals: Raymond Felton, 2.0
Blocks: Amar’e Stoudemire, 1.9

If you’re looking for your everyday, predictable basketball talk, then go somewhere else, because Kevin Burke of The Kevin Burke Project brings provocative, thought provoking content about basketball as only he can. Kevin also hosts The Hoop Doctors weekly podcast show, which you can subscribe to for free on iTunes. Follow Kevin on Twitter and Facebook

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