Earlier this season, when the Knicks were winning most of the time, Mike Woodson routinely passed on opportunities to make his team scrimmage. It was defensible-- the Knicks were pretty sharp, so off days were better used to rest all those veteran limbs than to work them extra. Recent events, however, call into question the value of rest. The Knicks took a week off for the All-Star break, practiced only on the Tuesday before they returned, then played some of their groggiest ball of the year in Indiana and Toronto. That little stretch of torpor was evidently enough to change Woodson's mind, because last night's win against the Sixers is getting sandwiched between practices.

Though the Knicks didn't win as soundly as we might have hoped last night, there was a palpable verve that had been lacking during that four-game losing streak. The Knicks defended pick-and-rolls more aggressively, fouled harder, and-- when push came to shove-- shoved. Carmelo Anthony and others pointed to rowdier practices like Saturday's as the primer for that sort of effort:

"Guys have been getting after it," he said. "Our practices have been a lot more physical than even the games that we've been playing. If we can beat up on each other like that in practice, and compete against each other, going into games should be easy from a competitive standpoint."