The Knicks continued their hot start to 2014 by running off four straight wins this week, taking care of business against the stumbling Pistons (89-85) and Sixers (102-92), beating the defending champion Heat at a rocking MSG (102-92) and narrowly outlasting the Suns last night in overtime (98-96).

The winning streak, now five games long, is all the more impressive considering they were without Tyson Chandler, who has bronchitis (and is literally the sickest player in the league) and had to endure yet another spell of bad behavior from sixth man JR Smith. Don't look now but after winning last night the Knicks are ever-so-narrowly holding on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference (despite being 15-22 on the season).

What Went Right This Week: After overcoming the size of the Pistons' front line to win an ugly game at home, the Knicks played their best game of the season with the Heat in town, standing up to LeBron with a novel concept called team basketball. They were fully prepared to deal with the Heat's aggressive, trapping defense, passing quickly to catch the champs out of position on the weak side. Raymond Felton, in by far his best game of the season, had thirteen points and fourteen assists. Melo, doing his best LeBron impersonation, had 29 points, eight boards and five assists. He also did this to the best player on earth:

It wasn't just Felton and Melo, however. The Knicks won by spreading it around on offense, generating 25 assists (five more than their season average). That led to nineteen points for Andrea Bargnani, fourteen points for Amar'e Stoudemire and twelve points for Iman Shumpert (STAT and Shump had double digit rebounds as well). Bargnani outplayed his old teammate Chris Bosh, who had just six points.

The Knicks were able to stop everyone other than LeBron and Wade on defense (those two combined for 55 points, the rest of the Heat just 37). Long story short, the Knicks played like the Heat and got the Heat to play like the Knicks. It was awesome.

Tim Hardaway Jr. showed his daddy's old team he meant business to end the third quarter:

Damn. Have some on your head, Ray Allen.

Saturday night in Philadelphia looked like a typical letdown game. Down is up and up is down in young 2014, however, and the Knicks easily handled the disintegrating Sixers behind 21 points from Amar'e Stoudemire (8-10 from the field) and an in-control fourteen points and six assists for JR Smith (more on him later). Melo had another diversified performance, scoring eighteen points, grabbing nine boards and dropping eight assists, no doubt confident that everyone would be too busy watching football to notice he scored so little.

Last night's game against Phoenix should have been easy but the Knicks just couldn't put the Suns away, requiring overtime to overcome Goran Dragic and a whole bunch of average-at-best players. Lucky for them Kenyon Martin had something left in the tank in overtime. Martin, who's been an able distributor from the perimeter over the last few weeks, got the Knicks going to start the extra period by throwing an alley-oop to Melo, following that up with a putback dunk on the next trip down to give the Knicks a four point lead that they wouldn't relinquish. Martin's been indispensable in Tyson Chandler's absence as he's averaged 8.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 blocks a game over the last five games.

What Went Wrong This Week: The Knicks continue to struggle with their perimeter defense and they don't show any sign of stopping their switching of big men onto ballhandlers in the pick-and-roll. Mike Woodson has said that he doesn't want bigs and littles to switch when they can help it but, well, he's the coach and they do it all the time. Last night it was Andrea Bargnani caught guarding Goran Dragic again and again, a task he just isn't up to. It wasn't just Dragic and his 28 points either, as Leandro Barbosa, who barely cracked the Celtics' rotation last season and just joined the Suns on a ten day contract, scored 21 points. When the Knicks are rumored to be trading Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr. and their 2023 first round pick to the Suns for Barbosa next month, it'll be the Knicks' switch-happy defense last night that we'll all have to thank.

On Thursday against the Heat it was LeBron (he's big but he also plays point guard) getting Bargnani matched up on him via Chris Bosh screens. LeBron had 32 points on 12-17 shooting, an impressive performance even by his standards.

Here's a perfect example of what happens when Bargnani has to guard LeBron:

Don't. Just don't.

Against Phoenix, the Knicks let what could have been a blowout to start a four-games-in-five-nights stretch turn into a burner. Not only that, Melo played his worst brand of hero ball down the stretch, forcing shots as he went 3-10 over the course of the fourth quarter and OT (he had 29 on 9-24 shooting despite a hot first quarter). Melo deserves credit for spreading things around more than usual this week, including when he found Ray Felton for an open three to give the Knicks a 92-90 lead with 53 seconds to go, but he fell into his old, bad habits after that and so the Knicks needed overtime to get past the Suns.

Knick of the Week: Carmelo Anthony won Eastern Conference Player of the Week, so it's hard to look elsewhere. It's no fun to give it to Melo every week, however, and Mike Woodson had a pretty good seven days all things considered. First, the Knicks have won five games in a row. Their longest winning streak before this was two and that only happened once.

Second, they came out against Miami with a clear plan to move the ball on offense and they executed it (although quick question: why isn't that always the plan?) And most importantly, he responded to another round of idiocy from JR Smith by benching him against the Heat. That had to be done. It might have been obvious, but it got done.

Woodson isn't perfect. He didn't tell Smith before the game he was going to be benched, which he certainly should have, and he's the architect of the Knicks' sloppy defense. The Knicks have shown a propensity to forget the game situation, and that's on Woody as well. He also makes mistakes like this one, where he switched Andrea Bargnani onto LeBron at the end of the first quarter with 0.7 seconds left, only to see, well, exactly what he should have expected to happen:

A mistake like that could cost a team a playoff game. But still, Woodson had by far his best week of the season. He deserves some recognition.

Anything Funny: My goodness. Michelle Rodriguez did exactly what you might expect and more. On Sunday, James Dolan sat next to Idris Elba at the Golden Globes, which left Knicks fans everywhere think of Brother Mouzone and Omar Little.

Up Next: The Knicks play one more cupcake game tonight, taking on the Bobcats in Charlotte. After that things get tough: they take on the Pacers in Indy on Thursday and travel home to play the Clippers Friday night. After taking the weekend off they host the Nets in a Martin Luther King Day matinee. Splitting their next four is a reasonable goal; anything more than that and the Knicks will be scorching.

You can follow Jonathan Fishner on Twitter @therealkingfish, and check out his blog The Real King Fish.