I wanted to take a look at one of the contributing factors for the 8 game winning streak, take a ride won't ya?
Last Season's 3rd quarter stats: (from hoopsstats.com)
Knicks: 24.7 Pts
Opp: 25.3 pts
Times Leading: 29
Times Trailing: 50
Knicks Trailing after Halftime: 12-41(meaning they've lost a bunch of games after trailing at the half)
Knicks: 26.6 Pts
Times leading: 16
Times Trailing: 7
Knicks Trailing after Halftime: 4-6 (meaning they've at least come back a couple of games after trailing)
A key ingredient to good teams is playing well in the 3rd quarter. You make adjustments after seeing what your opponent is doing. Tweak your offense, defense, whatever, it shows one of two things: you have the ability to adjust on the fly and overcome whatever is preventing you from getting over the hump, or two, you're able to blow games wide open and make the 4th quarter a non factor.
As last year showed, more often then not, we didn't play so well in the 3rd quarter, not having the firepower to make necessary adjustments while trailing or blowing games wide open. This season is different. For some examples, see the past 8 games:
vs. Nuggets: 31-24
vs. Wizards: 27-19 (Trailing at half)
vs. Raptors (Part II, The Italian Strikes Back): 25-27
vs. Nets: 33-15 (Trailing at half)
vs. Timberwolves: 31-18 (Trailing at half)
vs. Pistons: 22-23 (Trailing at half)
vs. New Orleans: 24-20
vs. Raptors (Part I, Amare On Fire-eh): 22-25
We went 5-3 in the 3rd quarter department, but in those 3rd quarter 'losses', we only trailed by a combined total of 6 pts.
However, and this is more important, in the games we were trailing at half (Nets, Timberwolves, Wizards, Pistons), we went on to take the lead back in 3 out of the 4 games. In each case, we made necessary adjustments to swing the game in our favor (Nets, Wizards, Timberwolves).
All this to say that D'Antoni seems to be making good adjustments, especially on defense, as evidenced by the lack of crazy opponent scoring output in the 3rd quarter. The Nuggets game yesterday showed a good example of this, giving 41 pts in the 2nd quarter, down to 24 in the 3rd.
The one down side is we haven't been able to blow games wide open when we did have a lead. I think this will come with more time and soon we'll be seeing a couple blow outs when the game is essentially done in the 3rd quarter as our chemistry and our bench play improves.
The other thing to keep an eye on is Amare's 2nd half effort. Whether it be due to foul trouble or wanting to stay out of foul trouble, Amare in the 1st half always seems to be a shadow of himself. However, I'm only running this assumption off Seth's recaps and a couple of the games I've watched. Curious to see what you guys are seeing regarding Amare or the other players in the 3rd quarter.