Knicks zero in on win No. 50

Carmelo Anthony scored a team-high 24 points in the Knicks' win over the Celtics on Sunday. Elsa/Getty Images

The numbers were hard to miss.

On the white board in a back corner of the Knicks' locker room, "50" was written in blue marker, big enough for everyone to see.

Under the number was the word "goal" -- written in big blue letters.

Nothing subtle about it.

"Anytime you can get 50 wins in a season, it's huge," Kenyon Martin said. "We're trying."

The Knicks haven't won 50 games in 12 seasons, but they are well within reach after Sunday's win over Boston.

And Rasheed Wallace wanted his teammates to know it after the win.

So he sent the message by writing it on the white board during the Knicks' win over the Celtics game.

"We came in here and that was up there," Steve Novak said. "Once we were in the huddle and broke (Wallace) kind of stopped everybody and said, 'Hey, the 50's up there' and he explained it. He's right."

The Knicks have 46 wins with 10 games to play. Of course, no one in the Knick locker room would be satisfied with a 4-6 finish to the season.

But 50 wins would be a significant accomplishment for a franchise that floundered for most of the 2000s.

"It means a lot," Raymond Felton said. "To have guys out like we do and have guys banged up throughout the year to get a 50-win season is really big and says a lot for our team."

It's funny because two weeks ago no one was talking about 50 wins as a potential goal for this team. The Knicks were a mess out West, losers of their first four games on a five-game trip stuck at 38-26.

At that point, they needed to finish 12-6 to get to 50 wins and even the most ardent Knick supporter probably wouldn't have taken that bet.

But New York rallied to win a game it probably shouldn't have in Utah and hasn't looked back since.

Sunday's win was their eighth straight -- their longest winning streak since Dec. 2010.

"We're back to playing like we started the season in terms of our defense and how the ball's moving," Mike Woodson said.

The numbers back Woodson's claim.

In the last eight games, the Knicks have averaged 104 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting. They are giving up just 91.5 points per game on 44.8 percent shooting. They're plus-23 in steals during the streak and have an average turnover differential of minus-4.

They're certainly starting to look and feel like the team that started the season 18-5 and was the talk of the NBA.

"We just had to start believing in ourselves once again," Carmelo Anthony said.

"Every season is kinda like a roller coaster, ups and downs. You hit walls, you hit hurdles, you kinda lose your momentum a little bit your confidence a little bit and you gotta to find a way to get that back and we’re finding ways (to do that) right now."

Sunday's win gave the Knicks the season series over Boston for the first time since 2003-04. It also gave New York a 4 1/2-game lead in the Atlantic over Brooklyn and an 8 1/2 game lead on the Celtics.

Their first division title since 1993-94 is well within reach.

So is 50 wins.

"Not saying that we should just win 50 games and stop or anything like that, but it’d be nice to get that 50," Iman Shumpert said.

Fifty wins doesn't guarantee success in the playoffs and it won't clinch anything significant.

But for a franchise that seemed rudderless for so long in the first ten years of the 2000s, it's something to strive for.

"Fifty wins is always a great thing in this league to accomplish," Anthony said. "We've just got to keep it going."

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