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Knicks' bench the big difference in Dallas

1/5/2014

DALLAS -- The New York Knicks escaped from the “Texas Triangle” with a 2-1 record, and a 2-2 split on their four-game road trip, with a 92-80 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

New York conquered some road demons in Dallas, as they had lost 14 of their past 16 games at the American Airlines Center.

The Knicks looked like a team tired of hearing about their shortcomings at the end of their previous game against the Houston Rockets, surging to a 29-17 lead after the first quarter, led by Carmelo Anthony’s 15 points.

Anthony was held to four points in the remainder of the game. That’s usually a sign of trouble for the Knicks, but things were different Sunday. Despite the scoring outage by Anthony, the Knicks were able to get a solid win on the road.

“It was a total team effort tonight,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “I thought our bench was fantastic. We’re going to need our bench to play like they played tonight. Like I’ve said since I’ve been here, it doesn’t matter who it comes from, we’ve just got to be a team and everyone has to do their part.”

Averaging 31.8 points coming into the game, the Knicks' reserves won the battle of the benches by a margin of 47-24. The second unit was led by Kenyon Martin, who scored a season-high 14 points. Dealing with a sore left ankle, the veteran forward was a game-time decision against the Mavericks.

Martin said he could have played in the game against the Rockets but the pain was bad enough for him to sit out. Martin's performance was huge, as the Knicks had to go for the majority of the game without starting center Tyson Chandler, who left after four minutes of action due to symptoms of an upper respiratory infection.

“I knew Tyson wasn’t feeling the best,” Martin said. “I might pay for it tomorrow but I’ll take the win anytime.”

Anthony expressed delight about the reserves stepping up in the team’s time of need. “If they could do that every night, I would be a happy camper,” Anthony said. “For them to come in and play the way they’ve been playing during this stretch, that’s big-time for us. As starters, we can just come in and sustain the lead and play basketball the way we know how to.”

Leaving the state of Texas on a high note could do wonders for the Knicks. Time will tell if this is a springboard for them, as they’re now two and a half games out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.

“It was a good, successful trip,” Woodson said. “It should be a boost for our team. Now we’ve got to go home and establish something at home.”

They’ll certainly have time to do that, with 13 of their next 17 games at Madison Square Garden.

On a night when they needed all hands on deck, New York delivered. The Knicks know they can’t rely on Anthony to carry the load every single night, so the production by the bench is a step in the right direction.