Age is a positive for Knicks, not a negative

Jason Kidd shoots over San Antonio Spurs forward

Jason Kidd shoots over San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan, right, during the first half of a game in San Antonio. (Nov. 15, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Knicks' veteran leadership and experience have been prominent in each of their first six victories, but never more so than Thursday night in San Antonio.

During a fourth-quarter timeout in which Mike Woodson lost his cool, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler calmed him down and relaxed the team.

When things looked bleak with the Knicks down 12, Jason Kidd made his voice heard in the huddle. His game was even louder on the court with his defense on Tony Parker and three big three-pointers in the final 6:14.

When the Knicks needed scoring because Anthony was being shut down by Gregg Popovich's defense, Raymond Felton directed the offense, penetrating and scoring or setting up shooters on the perimeter.

The Knicks had everything to do with San Antonio falling apart in their attention-grabbing 104-100 win. The Spurs may be the model franchise for consistency, but the Knicks -- who were trying to match the 1993-94 team for best start in franchise history at 7-0 when they faced the Grizzlies Friday night -- are showing they might have the depth and experience to legitimately contend this season.

"For us to come together so quickly, I credit that to guys understanding how to play the game," Kidd said. "Everybody talks about our age. But I think it's the knowledge of the game. Nobody on this side gets nervous or scared, down 12 or up 12. We've been on both sides of the coin. We just keep playing hard."

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Said Anthony, "Guys definitely know how to win the basketball game."

Championships aren't won in November. But in recent years, the Knicks wouldn't have won Thursday's game, certainly not the way they did.

The Knicks overcame Anthony shooting -- 3-for-12 with nine points, only one in the fourth -- and they did it with their defense. They held the Spurs to six points in a 6:47 stretch and got timely and clutch shooting from Kidd, Felton and J.R. Smith. That trio shot 10-for-15 and scored 26 points in the fourth.

"It shows that we can focus in and play through adversity," Chandler said. "We kept ourselves in the game by the defense we were playing.''

The Knicks, the oldest team in NBA history, added another member to the 30-year-old club as Amar'e Stoudemire hit the big 3-oh Friday. That makes eight Knicks at least 30, and Kurt Thomas, Kidd, Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace range from 38 to 40. But the Knicks' age hasn't been a topic since the season started.

Their first three wins were blowouts. They won their next two by double-digits with strong second halves, and on Thursday in San Antonio, end-of-game execution led to the win.

"We don't have a bunch of young guys on the team," Felton said. "I'm one of the youngest guys and this is my eighth year. I have a lot of experience under my belt."

Felton then bristled and looked for the right words to say the Knicks shouldn't be considered old.

"That's just a bunch of nonsense," he said. "I'll take these guys all day over anybody else. I love our team. I love JKidd, I love Camby. I love Sheed. I love KT. So what they're 38, 37, 40? So what? These guys have been great for us. Great. Great."

Kidd has been the most important of the older newcomers. His ability to lead and seize the moment has been huge to the Knicks' success. Kidd is in his 19th season and showing he still has plenty to give a team.

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"He seems to do it every single time," Chandler said. "Whether it's a steal or a three-pointer or something, he always seems to make the big play."

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