Against a tired, undermanned Indiana Pacers team, the Knicks went up by 48 three times before rolling to a 132-89 win before yet another sellout crowd last night at the Garden.
The win was the second straight and 11th in the last 17 games for the Knicks (14-20), who are a half-game out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with more than half of the season remaining.
Momentum clearly is continuing to build for Mike D'Antoni's team. "We have a long way to go," he said. "But hopefully, we take steps toward getting to where we want to get to."
The 43-point win eclipsed the Knicks' largest margin of victory for the season and tied the sixth-highest mark in franchise history. The franchise record is 48 points in a 130-82 win over the 76ers on April 21, 1994.
"It's a good feeling. We've had teams do that against us, too," said David Lee, who had 22 points and 16 rebounds for his 10th 20-10 game of the season. "The biggest thing is taking that and extending the lead and not letting a team back in the game."
The stunning dominance does come with a bit of a disclaimer. The Pacers (10-23) are without several key players, such as all-star Danny Granger (torn plantar fascia), Troy Murphy (sprained ankle), rookie Tyler Hansbrough (inner ear infection) and rugged center Jeff Foster (back).
Then again, it was the same group that scored 122 points in a win over the Timberwolves the night before. But against the Knicks, they managed only 16 in the first quarter and were down by 32 at halftime. The margin reached 48 once late in the third quarter and twice late in the fourth quarter, the largest lead any team has held in the NBA this season.
Before that, the Knicks' largest lead of the season was 41 points during a 126-99 win over Phoenix on Dec. 1.
Lee, who struggled in the previous game against Atlanta's Al Horford, had eight points before the first quarter was halfway completed as the Knicks took a 20-5 lead with 6:45 left. That opening run was capped by an electrifying driving dunk by Gallinari, who slammed it over 7-2 center Roy Hibbert. Gallinari then paused for a pose-down for the crowd.
Nella sua faccia! (That's Italian for "In your face!")
The emergence of the Knicks' two young talents, Gallinari and Chandler, is an encouraging theme in the Knicks' recent success. Their importance to the future of the franchise - read: a talented supporting cast to lure a star player in free agency - is almost equal, but their games, and personalities, are quite different.
"It's kind of weird because Wil's quiet; Wil gets a dunk and he does absolutely nothing while Gallo, he'll give you a little something-something," said Nate Robinson (six points, 2-for-11 shooting after scoring 41 points Friday against Atlanta).
"It's just fun to see Gallo, he has a little charisma to him. He has a funny side. Wil is just like a plain black-and-white cartoon in the back of the paper. And Gallo is the one with color."