Iman Shumpert, Knicks at the top of their games now
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The Knicks may have used a barrage of three-pointers to bury the Nets and the Magic, but the most-talked-about shot of the past two games was an in-your-face dunk by Iman Shumpert.
Shumpert, a focus of recent trade speculation, told MSG's Tina Cervasio before the 121-83 win over Orlando on Friday that he was angry "at the world.'' He then went out and played like it, scoring 10 points in 25:22, including a ferocious one-handed dunk over two defenders that brought his teammates to their feet.
That performance came on the heels of one of Shumpert's best games of the season, a 17-point, six-rebound, two-steal performance in the Knicks' 113-83 win over the Nets on Thursday.
"Losing, I don't like losing,'' he said after the Magic game. "I felt like people were laughing at my team and I don't like it.''
Now, with the Knicks having ended a nine-game losing streak and then a seven-game home losing streak with two blowout wins, people aren't so much laughing at them as feeling perplexed by them.
Are the Knicks the team that beat the Nets by 30 and the Magic by 38? Or are they the team that seemed on the verge of collapse only days ago?
Raymond Felton believes that the Knicks flipped a switch in Brooklyn and now are ready to play like the team everyone thought they could be.
"As dangerous as we were the last two nights, that's how we can play every night,'' he said.
Despite all that has happened to them this season, the Knicks (5-13) are only 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Celtics (9-12) in the anemic Atlantic Division entering Sunday afternoon's game against Boston at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks actually have a chance to finish 2013 playing close to .500 basketball. Only two of their next 12 games are against opponents who entered Saturday night with a record over .500 -- Atlanta on Dec. 14 and Oklahoma City on Dec. 25. Both games are at the Garden.
"It's still early,'' J.R. Smith said. "We're not going to get too complacent as of yet. We're trying to get back to .500 and move on from there. I mean, we've just got to keep playing our way out of it, keep moving the ball, keep running, playing defense, and hopefully we'll find our way.''
Shumpert, for one, has been finding his way on both ends of the floor. Against the Nets, he shot 5-for-7 from three-point range and brought a defensive energy that helped the Knicks take control of the game.
Shumpert wouldn't say the trade talk was responsible for his anger and energy, but Smith thinks it had a lot to do with it.
"Nobody wants to be traded,'' Smith said. "To be in the situation he's in with a hell of a team and the teammates we have, it's tough to go through that.''
It might be a little less tough on everyone now that the Knicks have won a few games. Knicks coach Mike Woodson said he has no problem with his guard being angry if it produces results like this.
"If he's playing like he's playing,'' Woodson said, "he can be mad at the world.''