- Ian Begley, ESPN New York Writer
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Maybe the rest of the NBA needed to see the Knicks trounce the Heat again before they could truly view New York as a contender.
Mike Woodson didn't.
The Knicks coach believed his team could go toe to toe with the Heat before it beat Miami without Carmelo Anthony on Thursday night. New York's 20-point win in South Beach just strengthened Woodson's opinion.
"I think it's out there, there's no doubt about that," Woodson said of the notion that the Knicks can finish atop the Eastern Conference, above the Heat. "I've been pushing all along with this team (that) we've got to stay at the top of our division and try to win our division and try to host first round at home."
Woodson, speaking on Friday on ESPN New York 98.7 FM's "The Stephen A. Smith Show", complimented his team's defensive effort in the second half against Miami. The Knicks held the Heat to just 39 points in the second half.
"In the third and fourth quarter, our defense really held tight and we started to make shots to open the game up," Woodson said.
His Knicks are 14-4 and in first place in the Eastern Conference, but Woodson knows that nothing's decided in December.
His goal remains to win an NBA title with this club, something the Knicks haven't done in 40 years.
"We're trying to get to where Miami was last year. That's it in a nutshell in terms of where we want to be," Woodson said.
The coached touched on several topics while speaking with Smith and Ryan Ruocco:
ARE THE KNICKS BETTER OFF WITH FELTON-KIDD-PRIGIONI AT POINT GUARD THAN THEY WERE WITH JEREMY LIN?
"I just think as an organization you've got to make decisions from a basketball standpoint. To be able to get a guy like Raymond Felton who had some success in his first go around in New York and to go out and get a Jason Kidd who I think is the glue to what we're doing in New York and then a veteran guard in Pablo from Argentina. You bring three quality guys who bring three different things to the table .... All of them can run a basketball team and they play together."
ON KIDD'S IMPACT ON FELTON:
"I think it has made Raymond more complete and more focused having Kidd around him because the subtle things Jason brings to the table, the subtle things that he says to all the guys on the team. Then when he's out there on the floor, he's like a machine. You don't see it on the stat sheet, but there's three or four or five plays that Jason does throughout the course of a game that beats the other team and it's amazing, (it's) beautiful to watch. I'm just happy he's a part of our franchise."
ON TYSON CHANDLER'S SCORING:
"We're trying to put him in position to be more effective offensively, but I think a lot of it is his will to go to the glass. He's going to the offensive boards -- and his numbers indicate that..... We've (also) given him a few touches on the block. I'm so pleased with his play, it's not even funny. He's the guy that sets the tone for our defense and it's been great to watch."
NOVAK: IT'S OUR TIME: If nothing else, the Knicks' win over Miami on Thursday -- without an injured Carmelo Anthony -- showed the impressive depth of New York's roster.
Look for further than Steve Novak for example of that depth.
Novak came off the bench to hit four of the Knicks' 18 threes in their 20-point win.
Novak is 13-for-23 (57 percent) from the field in two games against Miami, including 7-for-13 (54 percent) from 3-point range.
That's nine more threes than he hit against the Heat in five games in last year's playoffs, when Miami largely shut the sharpshooter down.
"It didn't leave a good taste in my mouth," Novak said of the Knicks' first-round loss to Miami. "I understood there were things I had to work on and there were going to be things that teams were going to take away from me, so I had to get better."
Novak's improved his release on catch-and-shoots and added a shot-fake and the ability to shoot off the dribble to his arsenal.
"I had to find ways to score when they were going to play me like that," he said on Friday during an interview on ESPN New York 98.7 FM's "The Michael Kay Show."
Novak also said in the interview that the veteran Knicks know they have a small window to make a title run.
"This is our opportunity right now. we can't play forever and we understand that we have a social team," he said.
Maybe the rest of the NBA needed to see the Knicks trounce the Heat again before they could truly view New York as a contender. Mike Woodson didn't. The Knicks coach believed his team could go toe to toe with the Heat before it beat Miami without Carmelo Anthony on Thursday night.