WHAT IT MEANS: The Knicks made sure to not let another lottery team roll over them, which happened Friday night in Toronto.
The Knicks took care of manageable business Saturday night at the Garden by beating the 16-30 Pistons, improving to one game below .500 at 24-25. The team is now 6-1 under interim head coach Mike Woodson.
TURNING POINT: The third quarter. The Knicks did not have a collapse in the period -- one in which they've lost the scoring margin in nine of their past 10 games. The Knicks turned around a sloppy first-half performance with 14 turnovers to play like they had been doing during their five-game winning streak. They outscored the Pistons 27-24 in the third quarter and then switched to the highest gear in the final period, finishing with a 25-16 advantage.
THE GOOD: 1. Tyson Chandler's inside game: Not only did he score 15 points, but he matched his season-high with 17 rebounds. Chandler took advantage of an undersized Pistons' frontcourt. When the Knicks find Chandler slashing to the basket and he makes his impact down low on defense, that gives them an edge in games.
2. Production from the Knicks' bench: They struggled Friday night against the Raptors, but they picked things up on Saturday. Steve Novak did his usual thing, hitting two 3-pointers, and J.R. Smith finished with 14 points.
3. Josh Harrellson's rebounding: He stepped in for an injured Jared Jeffries (out for roughly two weeks with inflammation in his right knee) and provided some inside muscle. He finished with eight rebounds (five offensive).
BOLD PLAY OF THE GAME: With 2:29 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Knicks created a highlight reel for SportsCenter tonight. On a fastbreak play, Smith passed to Iman Shumpert, who made an in-air pass back to Smith for the flush. The unbelievable double alley-oop put the Knicks ahead 99-77.
THE BAD: 1. Turnovers: The Knicks started the game very sloppy with their passing. In the first half, the Knicks had 14 turnovers, and to make matters worse, eight of them came from the point guards (Jeremy Lin had five, while Baron Davis had three). The Knicks have been struggling a bit to find offensive rhythm under Woodson, who has added several halfcourt sets. There is a learning curve going on and it's something to watch. Previously, Mike D'Antoni's offensive system encouraged flow and gave players confidence. Currently, there is too much hesitation and uncertainty going on in the offense, which is partially leading to the turnovers.
2. Anthony outside shooting, once again: In the first half, he went 1-for-7 from the field, which forced the Knicks' offense to stall. Not to mention, his lack of penetration didn't create scoring opportunities for others. Fortunately, Melo adjusted in the third quarter, becoming more of a post threat against Pistons small forward Tayshaun Price, and finished with eight second-half points. Overall, while Melo is obviously a great talent, his recent misses and not being able to distribute the ball very well has led to occasional breakdowns in the Knicks' offense.
3. Lin and Amare Stoudemire's injuries: Lin went down in the second half with a sore left knee and STAT suffered from a sore lower back. Both players sat during the fourth quarter.
WHAT'S NEXT: A team who wants to knock the Knicks out of the eighth spot in the East, the Bucks. Entering Saturday, while the Knicks were 24-25, the Bucks were right there at 22-25. Before the March 15 trade deadline, the Bucks upgraded by acquiring shooting guard Monta Ellis (21.2 points per gamae) for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson, who were sent to Golden State.
Ellis isn't the only Buck in the backcourt who can cause serious problems Monday night at the Garden at 7:30 p.m. ET. Point guard Brandon Jennings scorched the Knicks in his last outing there on Jan. 20. He scored a season-high 36 points on 6-for-12 shooting from downtown.