Was it the white uniforms? Was it the extra three-point practice? Or did the Knicks' win over the Nets on Thursday night give them some sort of karmic release and jolt them into looking like the team everyone thought they could be?
Whatever the explanation, the Knicks accomplished something they hadn't all season Friday night: They put together a two-game winning streak with a 121-83 victory over the Magic at Madison Square Garden.
After losing nine straight games, the Knicks (5-13) have beaten the Nets and Magic by 30 and 38 points the last two nights. And they've done it by returning to the outstanding three-point shooting that made them such a tough out when they won 54 games last season.
Led by Tim Hardaway Jr., who was 5-for-7 from three-point range, and J.R. Smith, who was 5-for-9, the Knicks shot 17-for-34 from downtown a night after going 16-for-27. Six Knicks hit at least one three-pointer. Carmelo Anthony did not attempt a three but shot 6-for-10 and led the team with 20 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three steals.
How big a win was it? The Knicks hadn't won at home since beating Milwaukee in their season opener Oct. 30. The seven-game skid had matched the longest in franchise history, set in 2007-08, and the good news-starved home crowd gave the Knicks a standing ovation when they walked off the court at the end.
"We got tired of losing," Anthony said after the Knicks came back from an early 10-point deficit to go ahead by as much as 41. "Whether we figured everything out in two games, that is yet to be seen. The way we won these two games, everyone has been on the same page and doing the job."
"We came back tonight and showed that [routing the Nets] wasn't a fluke," said Raymond Felton (14 points, five assists).
The Knicks, only 2 1/2 games out of first in the weak Atlantic Division, don't play a team with a winning record until they host Atlanta (11-10) on Dec. 14. Their next four games are against Boston, Cleveland, Chicago and Boston again.
Orlando was led by Aaron Afflalo's 20 points. Smith and Andrea Bargnani had 17 points each and Hardaway added 15.
One of the big keys to the Knicks' success last season was knocking down three-pointers at near-historic levels. And one reason their offense had struggled this season is that heading into the win over the Nets, the Knicks were shooting 32.2 percent (130-for-404) from three-point range. Against Brooklyn and Orlando combined, they shot 54.1 percent (33-for-61).
Knicks coach Mike Woodson said before Friday night's game that the team had put extra effort into practicing long-range shots this week.
"When you go back through our struggles, we've had a lot of good looks at the three-point line," Woodson said. "These last two practices, we shot a lot of shots mainly from the threes. We went back to some of our old stuff that we did last year and we had gotten away from. It showed. Those two practices were the best two practices we've had since coming out of camp, and it was nice to see it carry over."