While everyone is talking about the future of the Knicks, the present is looking better than it has all season.
The Knicks won a sixth straight game for the first time since last spring, blowing out the lowly Milwaukee Bucks, 115-94, in a matinee at Madison Square Garden Saturday.
The win gave the Knicks their longest winning streak since they won 13 in a row last March and April. Every one of this streak's wins has been by double-digits, a statistic that is rendered somewhat less impressive by the fact that the six teams have a combined record of 130-262.
Day games have given the Knicks a hard time this season -- they were 1-6 -- but not Saturday, as they took a 60-42 halftime lead.
The Knicks are putting it all together while major changes are transpiring in their front office. Though the Knicks have made no formal announcement, the team has called a major news conference for Tuesday in which they will introduce Phil Jackson as the new head of their front office, according to multiple sources.
Jackson will take over a team that has underperformed for most of the season but suddenly finds itself with a chance to get back in the playoff picture. The Knicks (27-40) remain 31/2 games behind the Hawks (29-35), who currently own the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
"It's better late then never," Amar'e Stoudemire said of the Knicks' run. "We just have to keep winning and see how it plays out."
Stoudemire, who averaged 18 points in the previous five wins, had another productive game with 15 points and six rebounds.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 23 points. He shot 8-for-16 and grabbed seven rebounds. The Knicks also received some impressive shooting from their trio of shooting guards: Rookie Tim Hardaway shot 8-for-12 and had 20 points, J.R. Smith was 5-for-7 with 15 points and Iman Shumpert scored 14 points.
It all seems to be coming together at the right time for the Knicks. After hosting Indiana, the best team in the Eastern Conference, on Wednesday night, the Knicks enter another weak stretch. Five of the seven opponents after the Indiana game currently are not positioned to make the playoffs.
"If we take care of our business and do what we have to do, we have a great shot," Tyson Chandler said about making the postseason. "We understand what we are playing for. Right now, we have to attempt to win every game down the stretch."
Stoudemire may believe the team's run is "better late than never," but it might be too late for Knicks coach Mike Woodson, who has been hanging on by a thread after coaching the Knicks to 54 wins last season.
Woodson said before the game that he does not feel as if he is auditioning for a new boss as Jackson comes in.
"I don't think I need to prove anything as a coach," he said. "I've never felt that way. I try to do my job the best I can do, and if you're going to judge me on 16 games, that's on you . . . We've had our ups and downs this year and I take full responsibility for that. But at the end of the day, we have 16 games left, got a legitimate shot to make the playoffs, and that's where I'm pushing this team."
Anthony, who will become a free agent this summer, said he is excited to have Jackson come aboard but said the team cannot think about the future yet.
Said Anthony: "As players, we have to really focus on the task at hand, which is trying to make this playoff push and not look to next season. The guys are confident about staying focused and winning basketball games and trying to make the push to the playoffs."