Here are three quick hits at the half from the Knicks-Heat game:
1. The Knicks are playing strong defense once again. Entering Sunday, they were holding opponents to 88.8 points per game -- the second-best mark in the league during that span, in which the Knicks have gone 13-4. While the Heat jumped out to a 18-7 lead in the first quarter, fueled by their blueprint of steals to fast-break points (LeBron James had a dunk and Dwyane Wade hit two off-the-glass jumpshots), the Knicks clawed their way back.
The Knicks did an especially good job of double-teaming James and Chris Bosh, and then quickly rotating over to the Heat's main 3-point shooters. Off the bench, Mike Miller and James Jones combined for 1-for-5 from downtown.
The Knicks also made nothing easy for the Heat in the paint, clogging James when he drove and disrupting his passing. Tyson Chandler was a big reason for that, as always. Big men Bosh and Udonis Haslem combined for 3-for-9 from close range.
2. Carmelo Anthony is cooking. He scored 14 points in the first quarter, taking James and Shane Battier off the dribble. Both guys played up on Anthony, trying to take away his room to get off his quick shooting release, but he beat them to the basket with his first step. The Heat, so far, are not doubling Anthony, who has 22 points in the first half. On the flip side, the Knicks are doubling James every chance they get.
3. There was obvious worry when Anthony sat to start the second quarter, after keeping the Knicks in the game, 29-22, after the first. It presented an opportunity for the Heat to build a quick momentum swing. But they didn't, thanks to the Knicks' defense and J.R. Smith making plays (he had eight points off the bench). When Anthony checked back into the second period with 9:30 remaining, the Heat were only up 29-24.
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