Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Slammin' Start

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Slammin' Start

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- On the floor at Madison Square Garden you could see it. You could see Tyson Chandler screaming and flexing. You could see Carmelo Anthony jawing at the Mavericks' bench. You could see the intensity and emotion.

But what you couldn't see was the locker room at halftime when Chandler delivered a motivational message to his Knicks teammates as they were challenged -- by the Mavs and by their own struggles. And you couldn't hear the message repeated in the huddle before they took the court for the second half.

You could only see the results as the Knicks shook off their first-half struggles and emerged with a 104-94 win, remaining unbeaten with their fourth straight victory.

"I think we wanted it," Chandler said. "We didn't want to have a letdown. We talked about that in the locker room that we're not going to come back into the locker room disappointed and feeling like we let one get away. We came out and played like it in the third and fourth quarters."

It was still a nail-biter, a Knicks four-point lead in the fourth quarter, when Anthony drained a three-pointer in front of the Dallas bench and turned to shout back at the Mavs. And that was followed with an Anthony drive into traffic with 6:08 left, his shot slipping off the rim. But as Chandler soared in, ripping the rebound from Jae Crowder and slamming it through, drawing a foul -- you could sense this game now belonged to the Knicks.

If you expected complacency from the Knicks as they returned from a three-day break as the only unbeaten team in the NBA, you would be mistaken Friday night.

"How to win," Anthony said. "How to lock in and how to win basketball games like this. The Philly game was a little similar -- in the first quarter they got off to a great start. Dallas got off to a great start in the first half, played very well and we just had to buckle down defensively and win the basketball game. The message of the night [was] we're going to have games like this. There's going to be ugly games, ugly wins. We've got to learn how to win and tonight was a good test."

Challenged after three straight blowout wins, the Knicks put on display the offense and defense that they had already showed off - and added a raging intensity. …

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