Jeremy Lin is out for the Knicks. Rookie of the Year candidate Kyrie Irving suffered a sprained shoulder against Milwaukee Friday and is out for Cleveland. It's not exactly pretty out there but New York does have control. Here are a few observations from the first half:
MELO STILL LEADING: Carmelo Anthony has been a scoring machine since Amare Stoudemire went out a back injury and Knicks coach Mike Woodson allowed him to go to work in the post. Anthony scored eight of his 12 first-half points in the first quarter and is having little trouble getting around Antawn Jamison. Something to keep an eye on: Anthony has three personal fouls. Tyson Chandler has also been dominant in the paint. He has five points, seven rebounds and has altered a bunch of shots.
TONEY DOUGLAS: Woodson said he would use Douglas and he didn’t waste time seeing what the PG could offer. He came in for Baron Davis with just over three minutes left in the first quarter. He promptly grabbed a rebound and a steal and just as quickly committed his first turnover. He missed his first three shots and scored his first bucket with 8:15 left in the half on a left-handed drive plus-the-foul. Interestingly, Mike Bibby did not play in the first half.
Davis has not shot well but had a solid first half. He has three points and three assists.
THE BENCH IS BACK TO MOBBIN’: Mobb Deep was M.I.A. against Atlanta but they are providing the energy fans have grown accustomed to tonight. J.R. Smith could barely find the rim for most of the game Friday night, but he appears to have regained his touch. He went 3-for-3 in the first quarter and has eight points at halftime. Steve Novak already topped Friday’s performance, shooting 2-for-4 with five points.
SECOND QUARTER DROUGHT: New York struggled to find its offense in the second period Friday against Atlanta with the second unit in the game and struggled again Saturday night. The Knicks scored 21 second-quarter points but shot just 7-for-20 and missed 7 of 8 from the 3-point line in the period. On the flip side, New York has continued to be strong on defense, holding the Cavalivers to just 36.8 percent from the field.
HURTING AT THE 3-POINT AND FREE THROW LINE: Free throws killed New York late in the game against Atlanta. The Knicks will have to correct that to pull away from Cleveland. They are 8-for-11 from the line but have really struggled from deep, missing 9 of 15. Maybe it's contagious, because Cleveland is 8-for-15 from the free throw line and missed four of their six attempts from deep.