Knicks' collective energy contagious

BOSTON -- When a team wins 18 of their past 20 games, including the first two in its first-round playoff series, you'd expect a looser, more playful and energetic vibe among the players on the court.

That's what unfolded with the Knicks in recent weeks, as the players have shown off some new pregame handshakes, more post-play reactions and collective celebrations on the bench. It's clear the team is more connected on the court and on the sidelines, and it has boosted their overall spirits.

"We're having fun, man," Kenyon Martin said. "We're a unit, cheering your guys on, and I think we do an excellent job of that. ... That's what it's about, man, just cheering your guys on when they do something good, and if they're doing something that you can help, we'll stand up and voice that as well."

The Knicks publicly support each other, there is no competition for minutes and they've put aside their individual pursuits to focus on one goal: to win a championship. That's behind their motto "Knickstape," which suggests a collection of differing personalities and styles, as "mixtapes" house a seemingly diverse array of songs, placed together to achieve one goal (got it?). Their increased positivity and focus will especially be important heading into their first road game of the playoffs. They need to remain upbeat, and Martin is confident that will happen in Boston for Game 3.

"Yeah, I think so," Martin said. "Staying together, staying as one unit, especially in a hostile environment like it's going to be tonight. Just stand together at all times for 48 minutes. It starts tonight."

K-Mart's energy has been a big motivator for the team. That also goes for Tyson Chandler and J.R. Smith, who's soft-spoken off the court but loud on it. The players have also added 3-point celebrations.

From Martin's fiery emotions to the 3-point mania, the players have been feeding off of their own excitement.

"It's very contagious," Mike Woodson said. "To me, it's very team. That's what we've tried to be about this season. Hopefully that can carry over in tonight's game. ... We'll be tested tonight, ain't no doubt about that."

GOOD FORTUNE: Could Martin have been competing against the Knicks in this series? On Friday, he said that before coming to New York, his agent, Andy Miller, was in talks with the Celtics, but nothing materialized.

"I didn't come close at all," he said. "They didn't offer me anything."

By the sound of it, Carmelo Anthony helped Martin land in New York.

"I remember getting a phone call saying that we were trying to get him," Melo said. "I was like, 'Yeah, we have to. It's a must that we get him.' At that point in time, he was the best guy out there that's not on a basketball team. Defensively what he brings to the basketball game, he's changed our team from one identity to another."

Martin also delivers memorable quotes, replacing Rasheed Wallace in that department.

Responding to a reporter's question on Friday about hard fouls in the playoffs, Martin said, "I can't speak on hard fouls because if I sneeze on somebody the wrong way, it's going to be a flagrant or something."

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