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The Knicks keep climbing, but the season is far from over

Jaime C. Harris | 4/12/2011, 5:26 p.m.

The more the Knicks win, the more they prove to skeptics that they are an authentic top six team in the Eastern Conference.

The winning has caused the urgency that characterizes talk radio discussions regarding the Knicks acquiring Carmelo Anthony subsides.

But within the organization, Anthony remains an essential target. The goal among the Knicks hierarchy and legions of fans is for the franchise not to be just a perennial playoff contender, but a championship caliber team.

The latter can only be achieved by adding another player in the class of Amar'e Stoudemire. The only one out there who is seemingly available is Anthony, and he would do anything short of giving up his first born to join Stoudemire.

Wisely, the Knicks have not allowed their early season success to lull them into a sense of complacency. Team president Donnie Walsh and head coach Mike D'Antoni understand that the regular season can often be a mirage.

They need to look no further than the Atlanta Hawks, who are consistently a 50-plus win team but fizzle in the post-season. The reason is obvious. While their talent level is very good, the Hawks roster is devoid of transformational players. The Knicks already have one in Stoudemire. Anthony would be another.

When they went into their meeting with the Heat in Miami on Tuesday, the Knicks were 18-12 and one of only six teams in the east above .500. They were just one win in the loss column from equaling the 19-12 Magic - who they will play tonight (Thursday) in Orlando - in the standings.

The Heat and Magic, along with the Boston Celtics, are the three teams in the Eastern Conference that will only be satisfied if they win it all. Making it to the NBA Finals is not enough. That is the class in which the Knicks want to be.

They are taking the proper steps to get there by adding impact free agents (Stoudemire and Raymond Felton), developing their gifted young players (Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler), and drafting adeptly (Landry Fields).

The Knicks have many of the pieces - throw in Eddy Curry's expiring contract - to entice the Nuggets. Acquiring a first round draft pick as an additional chip could seal the deal. But until everything shakes out, the Knicks, with the chorus hollerin' praise the Lord, are finally on the move.