After the Knicks' 113-106 win over the Magic, Mike D'Antoni, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups all pointed to the same motivator that made the difference in the game: More energy.
It was a major component that was missing during the Knicks' six-game losing streak, especially in the fourth quarter. They lost the scoring margin in the final period in every game during that stretch, except for Saturday's loss to the Bobcats. While the Knicks were slightly outscored in the third and fourth quarters tonight, they stayed within striking distance and then mystified the Magic in overtime, holding them to just six points (the Knicks had 13).
That energy was stressed by Magic center Dwight Howard postgame, as he looked ahead to the playoffs. He said that even though the Eastern Conference is stronger than it was last year, any team that plays hard for 48 minutes can do damage in a series.
"Just look at college basketball right now," Howard said. "VCU has been playing hard. That's the reason why they're beating all these top teams. Now they're playing in the Final Four. It's the same thing here. The harder you work, you make up for those mistakes. Whoever works the hardest is going to win. I think that's what got us to the  Finals. We worked harder than everybody else."
While Anthony scored 39 points, his most as a Knick, Amare Stoudemire scored about five points lower than his 25.6 season average. It was his fourth time in five games that he wasn't up to par (in three of them, he scored under 20 points). For the Knicks to be successful, Howard said that Stoudemire has to fight harder, revealing that it has something to do with STAT missing a key part of his performance palette.
"I just don't see him as aggressive as he used to be," Howard said. "I know it's a lot of pressure on him; they ask him to do a lot. I just encourage him to keep playing, fight through it. He's been playing hard every night and he has to continue to lead by example. If he plays hard, everybody else is going to play hard. It's a different situation what he had in Phoenix. In Phoenix, Steve Nash just picked-and-rolled and Amare just could roll down the lane and get an easy bucket. But now teams are keying in on him and making it a little tough, so he just has to be aggressive and just find another way to score."
On his league-leading 17th technical foul: "I think it should've been a delay of game. Any time you roll the ball down the court, they usually call delay of game. But it's cool. I'm going to try and get it rescinded, but if not, I'm going to continue to play ... It was crucial. It was a very intense game, going back and forth. I'm emotional sometimes, especially in the heat of the moment. You don't know what can happen. My teammates understand that and we just have to move on."
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