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New Intensity, and Better Numbers, for Carmelo Anthony on Astini News

Carmelo Anthony's recent admission that the new coach Mike Woodson had succeeded in coaxing an admittedly dormant "energy" out of him  – particularly on the defensive end – raised eyebrows and ire in equal measure. Those certain that Mike D'Antoni's sudden resignation pointed to a mutiny by Anthony finally, it seemed, had proof.

But a funny thing happened on the way to an 8-1 start under Woodson: Everyone, it seems, has picked up the intensity.

Since D'Antoni's departure three weeks ago, the Knicks have vaulted from 10th in the league in defensive efficiency to fifth, allowing just over 97 points per 100 possessions. That is just a a little behind Miami, and also not that far behind Boston, Chicago and the league-leading 76ers.

Over the last 10 games, the Knicks are allowing a paltry opponent field goal percentage of 40.5 percent, compared with a shade over 46 percent pre-Woodson. Ditto opponent 3-point percentage: the Knicks are holding their foes to a mere 29.8 percent behind the arc, versus north of 35 percent before the coaching change. Forced turnovers, opponent rebounding, opponent assists – all of these have improved markedly as well. (Statistics are from

More impressive still, the Knicks are doing a far better job of capitalizing on opponents' mistakes, ratcheting up their points off turnovers  to 21.4 per game since  Woodson's appointmentfrom, from a shade over 18 points per game under D'Antoni.

Interestingly, the Knicks' recent lockdown defense hasn't necessarily come at the expense of their offense, which still ranks third in the league in terms of pace (96.6). In fact, the Knicks have actually improved – rather significantly, it should be said – in terms of efficiency, having gone from next to last in the league to 24th (at exactly 100 points per 100 possessions) in three short weeks. To put that in perspective, consider that if the Knicks had somehow managed to score for the entire season at the clip they have in the last 10 games, they would be sixth in the league.

In other words, under Woodson the Knicks have been a top 10 team on both offense and defense. Small sample size aside, it's clear that Woodson – a first-round draft pick of the Knicks in 1980 – has gotten through to his team in a way that D'Antoni perhaps couldn't, or at least hadn't.

Nowhere is this more apparent than with Anthony. Over the last 10 games, his individual defensive rating has plummeted (in a good way) from just over 100 to 83. And Anthony's offensive rating has taken almost the exact same leap as that of the team as a whole, up a net of 5 points over his season average (100.5 to 105.5)

In that same span, his steals are up, his turnovers are down and his shooting touch seems close to being back. His performance Wednesday night against the Magic (25 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists) wasn't merely one of his finest of the season; it was also the first time since late February that Anthony had connected on more than 50 percent of his shots in a game – a statistic indicative of just how poorly the 27-year-old small forward has played this season.

Which brings us back to the question at hand: Is Woodson's approach, demeanor or philosophy simply more motivating to the Knicks than those attributes of D'Antoni's?

The numbers look like they might be starting to talk.

Jim Cavan is a contributing writer at, a member of the ESPN TrueHoop network. You can find him on Twitter (@JPCavan).

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