On the one hand, I was correct in my prediction that the New York Knicks would not continue to convert on 59.3 percent of their three-point attempts for any sustained basis. However, I have to pat myself on the back a little less slightly since I did not foresee them continuing the torrid shooting in the second game of a back-to-back. In defeating the Orlando Magic on 121-83 on Friday night to break a seven-game home losing streak, the play of the Knicks looked like nothing more than a continuation of the beatdown they handed down to the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday.
No, the Knicks did not shoot quite as well from three-point range against the Orlando Magic on Friday, having to settle for only making 50.0 percent of their three-point attempts (17 of 34) so regression to the mean has already begun, but the three-point did prove to be such a potent weapon in the Knicks' offensive arsenal that they were able to easily put away the Orlando Magic. The most prolific three-point specialists of the game for the Knicks were J.R. Smith (5 of 7) and Tim Hardaway, Jr. (5 of 9).
Of course, the Knicks were not just shooting lights-out from three-point range in the game, although their performance from beyond the arc was the most spectacular part of their victory on Friday. In addition to getting 51 points on 34 three-point attempts, the Knicks were especially efficient from two-point range. For the game, the Knicks shot a crisp 55.1 percent (27 of 49) on their two-point attempts. Additionally, the Knicks negotiated and bullied their way to 19 free throw attempts, of which they made 16.
Overall, it was an incredibly efficient offensive performance for the Knicks, their second in a row, as they finished the game having scored 138.3 points per 100 possessions. Almost no Knick who got minutes in the contest played poorly on offense.
With the right rose-tinted optical devices, one could look at the way in which the Knicks played on offense over the last two games and see a team that is finally turning the corner and will string together a row of impressive performances when they possess the ball. Reality begs to differ and contends that their success on offense might have nothing to do with their actual ability and almost everything to do with the two opponents they have played most recently.
Both the Nets and the Magic field two of their worst defenses the NBA has seen this season, and they are both especially susceptible when their opponents shoot from deep. After having played the Knicks, the Nets have allowed opponents to make 41.6 percent of their three-pointers while the Magic are little better, having allowed their opponents to convert on 38.2 percent of their three-point attempts. The Knicks still had to make all their three-pointers, but their last two opponents have provided little resistance.
When the Knicks are able to put up offensive numbers against superior competition, then they might be something to get a little more excited about. Until then, the Knicks are merely the beneficiaries of porous defense and have exhibited no real improvement in their underlying ability to play efficient basketball.