MIAMI, Dec 6 (Reuters) - The New York Knicks enjoyed a second 20-point win over the defending NBA champion Miami Heat in just over a month on Thursday, giving them the belief that this year they can compete when it matters in the post-season.
Last year, New York lost all three regular season games to their Eastern Conference rivals Miami and then fell 4-1 to the Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
For Knicks center Tyson Chandler, who was part of the Dallas Mavericks team that defeated the Heat in the 2011 finals, Thursday's victory was a big psychological boost.
"It is important to know how to beat a team. Last year, things were very different, we got smacked around by them last year," he told reporters after getting nine rebounds and putting up 13 points in the 112-92 win.
"It's important that you take a little from each game. When it comes down to it, we will have to go through a team like this in the playoffs," he added.
But Chandler said it was important that the Knicks did not let victory at this stage of the season go to their heads.
"It's one game. It's a big win though, it's in the conference but we have to keep our focus," he said.
"We played a great defensive game. LeBron is a special talent ... but for the most part we kept everyone else in check."
The Knicks win was all the more impressive given that they were without their franchise player, forward Carmelo Anthony, who was ruled out with a finger injury.
"It says we got better since last year," said Chandler. "I think the biggest thing now is that we are a deep team - depth was what we struggled with last year.
"Even when we had every player healthy, we still didn't have enough, teams would wear us down in the fourth quarter and we would struggle. Now we have got guys who can come off the bench and contribute and it really helps."
In Anthony's absence, Raymond Felton stepped up with a season-high 27 points and tied his career-high with six three-pointers.
"He has been unbelievable," said Chandler. "He's running the show and keeping the turnovers down. That is huge for us on the road."
Felton said the win gave a real boost to the team's belief.
"It just shows what kind of team we have - how deep we are and how together we are," he said. "To come in after losing Melo (Anthony) last night and beat a team of this caliber, it says a lot about our team.
"But we are still not satisfied. It's still early in the season. We are happy but we have still to keep moving and get better." (Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)