Notebook: Smith says Knicks are 'real deal'

MIAMI -- Up until this point, the Knicks have been so focused that they haven't gotten caught up in how people are perceiving them. But now that they have the best record in the Eastern Conference (14-4) and upset the defending champs twice, J.R. Smith is speaking out about how he wants others to view his team.

"I wish they would say we're the real deal," he said on Thursday night after the Knicks beat the Heat, 112-92, "but you know what, we can't worry about that."

KEEPIN' THE PACE: With the scored tied at 53 heading into halftime, Mike Woodson talked to his team bout picking up the tempo in the third quarter to wear down the Heat. When the Knicks did, they got a jump on the Heat and went off for eight 3-pointers within a six-minute span. Overall, the coach doesn't want the guys to stall the ball, but rather keep it moving.

"That's the key to us, I think, playing good offense," he said postgame. "The ball's got to move, flow from side to side and we've got enough guys that can make shots. I think these guys feel comfortable about who lets it go, so we've just got to put it in the bucket offensively."

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A SEASON MAKES: In the postgame locker room, Tyson Chandler was asked to explain what Thursday night's epic win meant. He said it proved the Knicks are better top to bottom.

"I'm not going to make much more of it, but I think the biggest thing that people learned tonight is that we're a deep team," he said. "That was the thing that we struggled with all last year, even when we had every player healthy, we still didn't have enough. Teams would wear us down in the fourth quarter and we would struggle. But now we've got guys that can come off the bench and contribute, and it really helps."

ARE YOU KIDDING?: Entering tonight, Jason Kidd was the league's best 3-point shooter at 51.1 percent. After he finished 3-for-8 against the Heat, ESPNNewYork.com asked him if he's starting to notice teams defending him differently.

"You guys created that," he said, smiling. "You guys said I couldn't shoot. I've always said that. I told that to Dirk (Nowitzki). I'll always be open."

EXTRA MOMENTUM? Smith had two things in his favor to play big on Thursday night: Carmelo Anthony was sidelined and he had momentum coming off his game-winning shot in Charlotte the night before. But while he had a some key 3-pointers in the third period, he wasn't able to seize the moment with a strong performance. He had another poor shooting night -- his third in a row.

"I just tried to start making shots, but I was missing too many open shots at that," he told ESPNNewYork.com. "I just tried to get my feet under me. With Melo out, I tried to be more aggressive, but I couldn't due to the fouls."

WHAT'S UP WITH THE HEAT'S D?: Last season, they ranked fourth-best at 92.5 points per game allowed. Now, they're near the bottom of the NBA at around 100 points per game. Smith believes their defense has been the same, but they couldn't keep up with the Knicks' passing.

"They've been playing great, protecting the paint," he said. "But when you're moving the ball so fast, your feet can't keep up with the ball."

Smith called the Knicks making the extra pass, which has been one of their offensive staples, "so fun and contagious."

"Once one person makes that pass, everybody's looking for the next person," he said. "And the best thing about it is we weren't passing up good shots either. We were really actually finding the open man wide open."

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