Team on the Rise
New York — What a difference seven days can make.
A week ago the Knicks sat in the "Team on the Decline" spot after losing six in a row. Seven days later, they enter another Wednesday contest, but this time as winners of four in a row.
Even during the losing streak, New York was scoring 101.6 points per game, but were surrendering 111.8. Oddly enough, during the winning streak, Mike D'Antoni's team is still giving up exactly 111.8, but the offense kicked it up a notch, averaging 118 a game.
Three of the four wins came on the road — a West Coast trip that resulted in a 3-1 record — and the team returned to Madison Square Garden to hold off Charlotte 110-107 Tuesday. The Knicks complete the home-and-home with the Bobcats tonight before taking on Atlanta, Detroit and New Jersey over the next week.
If New York could ever develop a defensive presence they could be a scary team in the Eastern Conference. But third in scoring against 27th in points allowed is a discrepancy that will eventually catch up with them.
Team on the Decline
Miami — Yikes. This is what a team that is third in the East has to endure?
The Miami Heat thought they were putting together the perfect team with the addition of LeBron James and Chris Bosh, but apparently didn't account for chemistry, a post presence or injuries.
Back-to-back losses to sub-.500 teams Memphis and Indiana after an eight-point win over a then 4-7 Charlotte has the 8-6 Miami Heat seemingly reeling heading into their second meeting with Orlando tonight.
Within the organization, injuries are compounding what is perceived as poor play.
Superstar guard Dwyane Wade is battling a wrist injury. Center Udonis Haslem may be out for the season with a torn ligament in his foot, leaving the team to scramble and sign Erick Dampier. Mike Miller (thumb) is out until at least the middle of December.
Outside of the organization, Lakers coach Phil Jackson is taking shots that can be heard from LA to Miami when he questioned on Wednesday whether Erik Spoelstra can hold onto the coaching job should the struggles continue.
All of this is while the team is still eighth in the league in scoring and fifth in points allowed. Miami is second in offensive and defensive efficiency. Bosh has finally started to make a difference with three straight double-doubles.
However, inside is where the Heat are still getting killed. That's not the recipe to defeat Orlando, Boston or even Chicago if the trio of Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson have anything to say about it. Miami is scoring 33.8 points a game inside while allowing 38.8 and are 19th in rebounding.
The only thing saving the Heat right now is the fact they are in the Eastern Conference. In the West, they would be battling for the seventh or eighth seed right now.
Numbers to Know
16 — Derrick Rose dropped in his 16th 3-pointer of the season in Chicago's loss to the Lakers Tuesday. That's a significant number for the third-year player because he had only hit 16 3-pointers in each of his first two seasons. He now has 16 in 12 games.
4 — Speaking of the long ball, Indiana's Danny Granger had five in the Pacers' win over Cleveland Tuesday. It's the fifth time Granger has hit at least four 3-pointers this season. That ties him with Charlotte's Stephen Jackson.
44 — New York's Danilo Gallinari has made 43 straight free throws heading into Wednesday's game with Charlotte. One more and he can tie the franchise mark set by Chris Duhon in 2008.
8 — Detroit heads to Memphis tonight to play a Grizzlies franchise it has owned on their own court. The Pistons are 8-1 in Memphis since the franchise moved from Vancouver. The lone victory for the Griz came Dec. 11, 2004. That dominance may end tonight as the Pistons are 2-6 on the road this season.
Beyond the Arc
Going to a fifth quarter without ever leading: Atlanta never lead in its game against New Jersey Tuesday night, but still took the Nets to overtime. New Jersey went on to win 107-101. According to Elias, it was the first NBA game since Feb. 8, 2006 that went to overtime with one team never having taken the lead. The Spurs defeated a Raptors team that never had the lead in that game.
15 down. No problem: Washington erased a 15-point, fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime against Philadelphia Tuesday, the first time the Wizards had overcome a margin that big in the fourth quarter since Jan. 30, 2004. Washington went on to win the game 116-114, ending a 136-game streak of not being able to come back down 15 in the final quarter.
— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter