The way the New York Knicks opened this season, it didn’t appear they would be playing many meaningful games in the new year.
The Knicks have somehow managed to get their season back on track, and they’ll look to continue their strong play on Sunday when they open a five-game road trip at Golden State, where they haven’t won in more than six years.
New York (14-28) was playing some of its worst basketball of the season when it faced the Warriors (26-18) on Nov. 20.
The Knicks turned the ball over a season-high 29 times in a 108-82 home loss to Golden State, their seventh loss of a season-high eight-game skid.
They had the league’s fourth-worst record on Jan. 5 at 9-26, but have won five of their last seven. Although it is in 14th place in the Eastern Conference, New York is just 3 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot.
“I think we are playing our best ball right now,” said Knicks shooting guard Jamal Crawford after Friday’s 89-81 victory over Philadelphia.
Crawford finished with 18 points against the 76ers, and is averaging 23.2 points in his last 10 games.
Zach Randolph had 16 points and 15 rebounds on Friday, and is averaging 19.3 points and 11.6 boards in his last seven.
“We are playing a lot better basketball,” said Randolph, who had 15 points and 16 rebounds in the loss against Golden State. “We are playing more together and getting better movement.”
The Knicks’ defense has been a big reason for their turnaround, as they’re allowing an average of 92.6 points in their last seven games—10.0 points less than they yielded in their previous seven.
New York will face a tough challenge in this contest, however. The Warriors are second in the NBA in scoring at 109.3 points per game, and averaging 115.0 points in their last seven home games.
The Knicks have also had little success at Golden State, where they’ve lost five straight since a 94-70 victory on Nov. 20, 2001.
New York has won three of its last four on the road after starting the season just 1-13 away from Madison Square Garden.
Golden State, which has won 12 of 16 at Oracle Arena, is coming off a wild 121-119 home win over New Jersey on Thursday.
After trailing by nine points in the third quarter, the Warriors scored 22 consecutive points only to squander that 13-point lead.
“We weren’t concerned,” Monta Ellis said. “It’s the league. We make a run, they make a run. It’s the NBA. As long as we do what we need to do, we’re going to be OK.”
Ellis had a career-high 39 points on Thursday, shooting 13-of-18 from the field and 13-of-14 at the free throw line. He is averaging 30.8 points—13.2 points better than his season average—in his last four home games.
“(Ellis is) the future of this franchise, a rising superstar and he’s been playing great for us all season,” Baron Davis said.
Davis had 25 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists on Thursday for his second triple-double of the season. He is averaging 24.2 points, 11.0 assists and just 1.8 turnovers in his last five home games.
Davis had 31 points, seven assists and six rebounds against the Knicks earlier this season, while Ellis was held to just nine points.
Golden State has won nine of its last 11 over New York.