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The Avengers

Second game of a back-to-back against a team with a 13-game winning streak. Oh yeah, you were taking the Knicks in this one.

It's amazing what friendly rims and a little bit of ball movement will do for a team's confidence, which became a swagger by the end of this shocking 128-94 win over the Mavericks.

Seriously, how many Mavs looked like they were just hoping to get this game over with so they could get out to Cowboys Stadium to catch the Pacquio-Clottey fight?

Al Harrington said they were "ripe for the picking" and felt Dallas -- like most opponents these days -- weren't expecting much from the Knicks.

"When you've had that much success and you know the Knicks are coming in and you feel you can score 15 points on them in your sleep," Harrington said, "that [Knicks] team didn't show up today."

That's true. But I'm not totally buying the notion that this performance was any kind of collective response to the embarrassing 50-point loss to the Mavs at the Garden on Jan. 28. But I do believe once the Knicks started pulling away in the third quarter, it was easy to put the pedal to the metal and get the deficit up to as many as 37. The Knicks made 11 of their 16 three-pointers in the second half. Seven of the 11 were in the fourth quarter, when the lead jumped over 30 and stayed there.

"Revenge," Harrington said, "is sweet."

I'll go as far as crediting the Knicks, they gave an honest effort, which is a lot more than what they did in the first three quarters in Memphis on Friday. Rookie Toney Douglas was again the catalyst with his speed, defensive tenacity and, most of all, the kid made 8 of 10 from the floor and was 4-for-4 from downtown. He also dished out 8 assists with another game where he did not commit a single turnover. Solid.

In the grand scheme, it's a nice win. A moment to feel good in the midst of what is basically a point of the season that is mostly playing out the schedule. It's good for Douglas, who is at least showing how much work he continued to put in while he sat for most of the last two months and can be viewed as yet another quality young asset on the roster going forward.

It's good for Bill Walker, who padded his stats with 16 of his career-high 23 points in the fourth and continues to show the ability to score off the bench.

And it's good for the franchise, who needed this just to - if just temporarily - break the notion that the players had started to mail it in.

* * *

* - It was the first time the Knicks had ever won at the American Airlines Center. In fact, it was their first win in Dallas since Dec. 16, 1999. That one was a 100-93 win that saw 31 points from Allan Houston, 17 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks off the bench by Marcus Camby, 15 points from Latrel Sprewell and 14 points and 7 rebounds from Patrick Ewing.

Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavs that night as well. He had 24 points. How about this backcourt for Dallas that night: Gary Trent and Robert Pack.


New York Sports