WHAT IT MEANS: After the Knicks blew out the Trail Blazers Wednesday night, 121-79, Tyson Chandler said, "I hate to say that, but sometimes a team does need change."
Well, that change has obviously helped, as the Knicks are now 2-0 under interim head coach Mike Woodson, who replaced Mike D'Antoni on Wednesday. The Knicks completely put away a Pacers team that was the fifth seed in the East and entered Friday winning two straight and eight of their last 12 games.
TURNING POINT: The Knicks' stifling defense in the first quarter led to energetic playmaking on offense. The Pacers only shot 22.7 percent and scored 14 points -- the second-lowest the Knicks have given up in the first period all season. On the other hand, the Knicks scored 24 points on 47.4 percent shooting, and kept building their lead from that point on.
DIFFERENCE-MAKERS: Before the game, Woodson said he's going to hold the "battle-tested" guys, including Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Baron Davis, more accountable for their actions. All four of them put their stamp on the Knicks' win.
For the second game in a row, Anthony had another hot start, scoring six points in the first quarter. His passing was most impressive, as he finished with five assists in the game. NBA scouts rate Hawks small forward Joe Johnson, whom Woodson coached in Atlanta, as a better passer than Anthony. But if Melo can keep his distributing up, the Knicks will be at a bigger advantage with their top scorer (21.1 points per game) becoming a threat with his floor vision.
While Stoudemire had some strong finishes around the rim, showing that explosiveness he's been lacking, Chandler made everything difficult for the Pacers in the paint. Davis was a spark for the second unit, scoring seven points in the first half on a perfect 3-for-3 shooting, which helped the Knicks maintain their double-digit lead.
THE GOOD: 1.) Suffocating interior defense. Chandler and Jared Jeffries together put a stop to 2012 All-Star center Roy Hibbert (12.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game). He only had four points and three rebounds in the game.
2.) Jeremy Lin's efficient production. He only took seven attempts, but he scored 13 points. He also had five assists and five rebounds and, better yet, only three turnovers -- still high, but an improvement.
3.) Steve Novak and J.R. Smith. For the second game in a row, they were hot from downtown. While Novak had four 3-pointers (12 points), Smith had two (16 points). The Knicks' aggressiveness all night was apparent on offense, as their constant penetration paid the way for these two sharpshooters to get open looks and knock them down.
BOLD PLAY OF THE GAME: Toward the end of the first quarter, Davis picked up Pacers point guard Darren Collison full court and Jared Jeffries joined him with a moving defensive trap. It was an unusual Knicks' maneuver, but it forced Collison to make a difficult pass beyond midcourt. Then, Jeffries sprinted back fast enough to block Hibbert's layup with 3:25 remaining. It was the kind of the effort the Knicks displayed all evening.
THE BAD: Davis suffered a strained right hamstring and didn't return to the game. His health is key heading into April and May because of his playoff experience.
WHAT'S NEXT: The Pacers, once again, tomorrow night in Indiana, where they have a better record than on the road (13-5 vs. 12-11). It's the Knicks first home-and-home of the season.
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