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Sharing Is Key For ’12-13 Knicks

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As if wanting to disabuse the notion that the opening night destruction of the Miami Heat was a fluke, the Knicks came out earlier today and handled their business against the visiting Philadelphia 76ers. It wasn't just about the win though, it was the way the Knicks dismantled Doug Collins team. For the second consecutive game the Knicks played an aggressive – yet selfless – brand of basketball, one that hasn't been seen at Madison Square Garden since the pre-Melo days.

Funnily enough, it is the Knicks leader that has shown a willingness to adapt his game in the first two encounters New York have played that has got the town talking, and the daily tabloids ready to crown the Knicks as championship favorites any day now.

Anthony – for all the criticism he has taken about being a ''ball killer" – has begun the 2012-13 playing with a sense or urgency. He seems to be much more motivated and has even incorporated doing all the 'little things' the team needs from its best player. Coach Mike Woodson said that he hopes it becomes contagious.

"I thought he [Carmelo] did that last year. It is just not Melo, everybody has to do that for us to be a good team this year. His job is to block shots, take charges, get on the floor. Everybody has to do that for us to be a good team this year," Woodson said.

The biggest difference from last year is the fluidity of the offense. Against the Sixers the Knicks shot 50.6% from the field and made 40% of their long distance shots, many of them were wide open looks. Perhaps it's the steadying influence of veteran Jason Kidd but New York have displayed a new found patience on offense, often willing to make one, or even two, extra passes until they find an open shooter. A couple of those 'extra passes' led to turnovers but Raymond Felton admits the Knicks have been conscious of sharing the ball.

"We kind of laugh and joke that, maybe we pass a little too much, but it's good though. As long as everybody is sharing the ball, we'll take the turnovers by over-passing. We're turning the ball over and over-passing to each other, we'd rather do that than taking bad shots," exclaimed the point guard after the win.

The statistics back that up. New York are averaging 22.5 team assists per game, but just 13 turnovers while making 85 of their 161 field goals over the two games. And they've all been good shots, within the flow of the offense, very few shots forced. You know the whole team has bought into the concept of sharing when J.R. Smith has to be told to shoot more by Mike Woodson.

"I've never [had a coach say that], I've been asked so many times not to shoot," he said with a laugh. 'I shot a few bad shots and started hearing the boos from the crowd so that kind of messed with my head."

Woodson did praise his player's restraint this season so far. "He is more under control. Shooters are going to take some bad shots. That is just the nature of the game. I don't mind that, as long as he's defending and doing the necessary things to help us win."

The key for New York is maintaining this urgency throughout the season. Games won't get any easier, nor will the schedule, but the team is playing with a chip on it's shoulder. They feel like they still have doubters out there.

"I think this whole team got a chip [on their shoulder]. Not really a lot of people talking about the Knicks as being one of the elite teams in the NBA, but before it's over with they will be," proclaims Felton.

Anthony (who finished with 27 points and 5 rebounds) reiterates that the Knicks are ready to continue stepping it up.

''I think at the end of the day, we know what type of guys we have on this team, we know what's at stake and we want to win,'' Anthony said. ''That's the only thing that's on our minds.''

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