Maybe this Phil Jackson fellow is particularly brilliant, after all. It was just last week that word began to leak that the Knicks would be making a play to have Jackson join the team’s front office. In that span, New York has not lost a game.

Incredibly, the Knicks’ current five-game winning streak has moved them just three games behind the Hawks for the No. 8 seed in the East, a feat accomplished under the shadow of the impending hiring of Jackson as the team’s new front-office guru.

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While the Jackson situation has added another ring to the circus to which we have grown accustomed under the ownership of James Dolan, the players have been winning.

“We don’t really look at that as a distraction,” forward Carmelo Anthony said. "Do we hear about that, do we read it, do we see it? There’s no way to get around that, there is no way to hide from that. But we just focus on playing basketball. We let Mr. Dolan and Steve Mills and them guys do their job and we got to do our job on the basketball court. That’s not something for us to worry about.”

The numbers from the five games the Knicks have won are especially encouraging, even as they’ve dealt with the absence of big men Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani. They’re averaging 114.4 points on 50.2 percent shooting and 43.6 percent 3-point shooting. They’ve given out an average of 22.8 assists with just 10.6 turnovers.

Compare that their pre-streak numbers: 97.3 points, 44.2 percent shooting, 36.5 percent shooting, 20.2 assists, 12.7 turnovers. The Knicks team of the past week-plus has looked like the one that won 54 games last season.

“It is kind of what we envisioned when we came out of camp,” coach Mike Woodson said. “But for all the ups and downs we have had

based on injuries—we got four bigs sitting at home. We are going to need them back in order to continue this run.”

There’s also a bit of a reality check that should be done on the Knicks’ post-Phil streak: They’ve played some especially bad teams, and they’ll get one more on Saturday when they play Milwaukee at home. The win that started the streak—last Wednesday in Minnesota—was a good one, but overall, the five wins have come against teams with a current combined record of 116-206.

Still, with the playoffs in reach, with a month remaining in the season (and with their draft pick belonging to Denver, anyway), it’s a better-late-than-never situation for the Knicks.

“Guys’ confidence, guys’ mindset now is a lot different than it was before,” Antony said. “I think when you’re losing games, you’re trying to reach, you’re trying to search to figure out what’s going on, what’s happening. Don’t nobody really know exactly what’s the reason we were losing games. Guys were just playing ball, but it seemed like it took that one game against Minnesota to get is back playing the way  we know how to.”