GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Two games into the season, the Knicks and Nets both are 1-1. What isn't identical is the aura surrounding both teams as they come off early measuring-stick games.
While the Nets and their fans spent Saturday enjoying a 101-100 win over the two-time defending champion Miami Heat on Friday night, the Knicks were cautiously optimistic about the way their team is coming together after an 82-81 loss to the Bulls on Thursday night.
Carmelo Anthony, who missed a potential game-winning three-pointer just before the buzzer in Chicago, said he watched the first quarter of the Heat-Nets game. He shrugged off the notion that the Nets had made some kind of statement by beating LeBron James and Co.
"I would hope they do their job and win on their home court," Anthony said. "That's what you're supposed to do, win on your home court. They handled that."
The Knicks will be looking to win on their home court Sunday night when they face the Minnesota Timberwolves.
They also will be seeking ways to get their offense to play up to the level of their defense. The Knicks have been without J.R Smith, who has served two games of a five-game suspension, and are trying to integrate new additions Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace into their offense. All of this helped result in some unimpressive ball movement in the final five minutes of their loss to the Bulls.
"Our defense is going to be ahead of our offense. We hold a team to 81 points and we don't come out of there with a win, it's kind of surprising," coach Mike Woodson said after practice Saturday. "Because normally when we've done that in the past, we've been pretty good."
Woodson said he plans to continue to tweak his starting lineup depending on whom the Knicks are playing. He will go big against a formidable Timberwolves front line that includes Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic.
Notes & quotes: Amar'e Stoudemire will sit out Sunday night's game, Woodson said. Stoudemire is on a minutes limit and will not play in both games of back-to-backs (after Minnesota, the Knicks will host Charlotte on Tuesday night). He sat out the Knicks' season opener against the Bucks on Wednesday night and played 10:40 in Chicago. The six-time All-Star, who had three knee surgeries in a 10-month span, said he has to adjust to the minutes restriction. He said Saturday, "It's not easy when you're known for being a superstar player and then having to accept the role of coming off the bench and then also limited minutes. It's never easy."