As surprising as it was to see the Knicks take down the Bulls on Wednesday, they followed up such a win with yet another impressive victory against their old '90s rival on Thursday night as well.
Though Chicago was without Pau Gasol as they made their way to The Garden, it was still a very positive victory for the Knicks. It's been very difficult for this team to develop continuity all season long. Achieving rare back-to-back wins, the team looked very strong, and maintained the intensity from start to finish so that they could build an attack that proved to be most powerful when it mattered the most.
Here are some observations from the game.
- It was easy to tell that the Knicks made a conscious effort to look for Kristaps Porzingis and create offensive opportunities for the big man. Obviously, New York tends to frown upon the use of iso-ball, but this is different. They're able to embrace him, create spacing to get Porzingis open, and subsequently ensure he benefits from higher percentage shots. Seeing him be a more focal part of the offense again is a beautiful thing.
- Everything seemed to go right on offense, and as such, Jose Calderon did a rather masterful job running the point once again. The two games against Chicago is undoubtedly his best back-to-back set of the entire campaign. He's looked really confident, hasn't hesitated, and has displayed a lot assertiveness. Such a different tone from him on the court has surely resulted in a better flow to the team's offense.
- Derrick Williams continues to be a huge X-Factor for this team, and his electrifying dunks and elusive layups prove to ignite the home crowd again and again. A team needs a player like that, because as a result of the extra pep in his step, his teammates can continue to play off of the crowd's passion. There aren't many guys who can do quite what Williams does off the bench, so New York should be hoping he exercises his player option for next season.
- Speaking of guys who should exercise player options, Arron Afflalo seemed to return to his more upbeat offensive form off the bench. He added 11 points, but really propelled the Knicks during a mini-offensive stretch in the third quarter that helped them legitimately begin to pull away. The team appeared comfortable looking for Afflalo once again as Carmelo Anthony sat during this time. That returning trust says a lot.