They could be dangerous. If they find a way to make the postseason.
“They” are the New York Knicks, who looked much better than a 32-43 ninth-place Eastern Conference team in Monday night’s 92-83 win over the Utah Jazz.
It’s predictable that many would argue it’s just the Jazz that the Knicks beat up on at EnergySolutions Arena. But New York defeated Golden State in the bay on Sunday night. And what can’t be argued is that New York — in a season of frustration — finally seems to be hitting its stride.
But is it too late?
“This was an important win for us,” Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony said. “Just to bounce back from last night and gain some momentum and build on that win. It meant nothing if we didn’t beat the Jazz.”
It could be the Western Conference swing that propels New York towards the postseason. The Knicks finished the trip 3-2, and are currently one game behind the Atlanta Hawks for eighth place. The Hawks own the tie-breaker over New York, so the Knicks will have to actually finish ahead of Atlanta to get that eighth spot.
If they do, they automatically become a dangerous foil to either the Indiana Pacers or the Miami Heat. Anthony lit the Jazz up for 34 points and didn’t exert that much energy in doing so. Tyson Chandler’s looking like himself as New York’s defensive anchor, and Tim Hardaway Jr. has been a revelation as a scorer off the bench.
“Carmelo’s doing a lot of little things,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “He’s been there all season when we needed him and now everyone’s starting to chip in. But we still have a long way to go. We have to go home and get ready for Brooklyn.”
The Knicks have seven games remaining, the Hawks have nine. That puts the onus on New York to finish strong. Even if Atlanta goes a pedestrian 5-4 over its final stretch, that forces the Knicks to win six of their last seven to win the playoff spot. And don’t forget about the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are three games out.
Still, New York’s showing life. It’s showing fight. And for so much of the season, the Knicks haven’t done so.
Time will tell if the surge is too late.