Riding a five-game winning streak, and being the lone undefeated team in the NBA, heading into last night's contest versus the San Antonio Spurs the odds were stacked against the New York Knicks.
The last time New York won in San Antonio was back in March, 2003 and the team was facing a Spurs team that was coming off a huge win against the Lakers and owners of a record with only one loss.
But this wasn't a Knicks team of past seasons. They built their undefeated record off solid defense (currently holding teams to 89.8 points per game, 2nd in the NBA), terrific offense (averaging 103.5 points per game, 2nd in the NBA) and beat their first five opponents by 10 points or more.
So when New York came storming back late in the fourth quarter versus the Spurs to escape San Antonio with a 104-100 win and beat one of the best teams in the NBA, New York head coach Mike Woodson realized his team is the real deal as his team improved to 6-0.
"It shows me this team is for real," said Woodson. "We beat a great team tonight. A well-coached team. It's the first time I've ever won in San Antonio, so I feel pretty good about that. It's tough to win here."
This Knicks team is well-balanced on both ends of the court and their roster is made up of proven veterans – Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Carmelo Anthony . So it shouldn't come to that big of a surprise to see New York undefeated early in the NBA season and beating San Antonio on their home court.
But it's just not beating the Spurs or any elite NBA team that's on Woodson's mind. His aim for the team is larger.
"We're fighting to win our division. That's first and foremost. We're just trying to take it one game at a time."
For any team, defeating the Spurs is a true barometer on where the team currently stands. With players such as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and coach Gregg Popovich, it takes four-quarters of basketball to have a shot at a win.
New York played great defense and offense in their fourth quarter rally, showed poise and mental toughness to get the win and all the credit goes to them for executing down the stretch. All that even with Anthony having an off night offensively finishing with nine points.
Woodson is right, beating the Spurs is huge for his Knicks but also for any team. It just goes to show you, despite talk of this Spurs team's best seasons behind them, they're still the benchmark other teams use to measure their development.