GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Knicks have already played three games in four nights, but starting Tuesday, it will be their first stretch like that on the road.
To prepare for Orlando, San Antonio and Memphis -- the latter two being two of the top teams in the NBA -- Mike Woodson stressed turnover-free offense, high-intensity defense and rebounding during Monday's practice. Woodson also said there needs to be an increased focus and commitment to get ready for road games, which he called "a different beast."
"Road wins are tough to get, so you've got to really be locked in and focused as a unit," he said. "I'm telling these guys, 'Anybody can be beaten in this league if you don't come to play.' There are no bad teams. Some of the records might indicate teams are not playing very well, but you're still beatable if you don't come to compete."
Through their first four games, the Knicks have the lowest turnover percentage in the league this season (12.1). The team's No. 1-ranked defense (87.5 points allowed per game) has allowed 10 fewer points per 100 possessions than last season.
But as far as rebounding, the Knicks have the fifth-lowest percentage. They also have to work on scoring more inside to complement their shooting, or in case they have an off-night. As of right now, Carmelo Anthony accounts for 77 percent of all post-up plays. (Amar'e Stoudemire could add to that when he returns.)
Steve Novak said a big advantage his guys have facing a challenging schedule -- they're playing six of seven games on the road coming up -- is their rotation. Woodson is able to go 10 deep with the roster he's managing.
"Having the depth we know is what keeps us fresh and what gives us energy to go on the road, having three games in four nights and six out of seven away like that," Novak said. "We feel like depth and freshness is what's going to keep us on top."
UNDEFEATED STATUS: Novak said the team isn't putting much stock in their 4-0 start, the only undefeated mark in the league.
"We know that it's an 82-game season before the playoffs start, and that's when it really matters," he said. "So we want to put ourselves in a good position to win the division and be in a good spot."
RIVAL INJURIES OPEN DOORS: Long-term injuries to Sixers center Andrew Bynum (right knee) and Pacers forward Danny Granger (left patella injury) have presented a bigger window for the Knicks to remain at the top of the Eastern Conference. When Carmelo Anthony was asked if that provided more motivation to the team that they could further separate themselves in the standings, he didn't even realize the significance of Granger's setback.
Anthony and the team are focused.
"I don't think we're looking at that," he said. "While those guys get healthy, we're out here playing ball, we're trying to win basketball games and go from there."
Regardless of who's on the opposing side, Novak knows that wins now count just as much as they do later on.
"We knew this first month we needed to really focus in and know that we need to get these wins early because they count the same at the end of the season as they do now," he said.
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