By DAN KELLY & ADAM ZAGORIA
NEW YORK — The key for the Knicks’ chances of making a deep postseason run next spring lies in their ability to win the Atlantic Division title and secure a top seed in the East.
And their chances of doing that will be greatly enhanced if they can continue to defend the court at Madison Square Garden.
With their 108-87 victory over the hapless Washington Wizards Friday night, the Knicks improved to 11-4 overall, 6-0 at the Garden for the first time since the 1992-93 season.
Under coach Mike Woodson, the Knicks are 17-1 at MSG dating to last year.
“Now that I’m in New York,” Woodson said, “you talk about trying to win a division; you can’t lose at home. You’ve got to win everything at home. And when you go on the road you have to figure the road out and try to play at least .500 or above .500. You do that, you put yourself in position to win the division.”
The last time the Knicks began 6-0 at home 20 years ago, they finished 60-22 overall. They would be happy with a 50-win season this year, which would be their first since 1999-2000.
“We gotta get back to those days,” said Tyson Chandler, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds. “We gotta back to where it’s consistently like that and that’s the way we approach every game.’
The Knicks finish November with 11 wins, their most in a month since going 11-6 in March 2000.
They can pad their record at home still more Sunday against the Phoenix Suns (7-9) before leaving on a three-game road trip to Charlotte, Miami and Chicago. They hope to have Jason Kidd, who has now missed three games with back spasms, back for that voyage.
After that road trip the Knicks play seven of their next eight games in the friendly confines of the Garden.
The homestand will feature the return of former coach Mike D’Antoni and the Lakers following his comments about it being a “mistake” to coach the Knicks.
It will also feature a game against Jeremy Lin’s Houston Rockets and another Clash of the Boroughs when the Brooklyn Nets cross the river Dec. 11.
If the Knicks can continue their dominance at home they will find themselves at the top of the Atlantic Division heading into the New Year.
An Atlantic title could mean the No. 2 seed in the playoffs and the opportunity to avoid playing LeBron James and the Miami Heat until the conference finals.
“The Garden is known for when it’s rockin’, it’s one of the toughest places to play so we want to bring that back,” said Carmelo Anthony, who had 20 points and five assists.
“And for us to just keep that going and protect our homecourt, that’s big.”
***For Adam’s NBA.com Notebook with Video, Notes and Quotes, click here.
Photo: US Presswire
Dan Kelly covers the Knicks, Nets and college basketball for brooklynfans.com. He has coached select teams, high school teams and individual players on the West Coast and in South America.