Halftime Report: Spurs 57, Knicks 55

The Knicks are in San Antonio tonight, trying to break a nine-game road losing against the Spurs and start the season at 6-0 for the second time in franchise history. They’re off to a decent start, down 57-55 after two quarters.

Here are a few observations from the first half of the game:

J.R.’S VERSATILITY: J.R. Smith made a bit of a splash this morning when he told reporters in San Antonio that he’s cut down on his partying this year, which has led to improved play early in the season.

On Thursday night, Smith did his talking on the court, filling up the stat sheet with seven points, two rebounds a block and an assist to help the Knicks’ second unit keep pace against the Spurs.

The Knicks shot 50 percent in the first half and featured a balanced attack, with eight players scoring at least five points.

They have hit a sizzling seven of 13 attempts from beyond the arc but have struggled to get stops.

WHERE’S THE D? The Knicks entered play Thursday with the top defense in the NBA, but you wouldn’t know it from the way the Spurs scored in the first half.

San Antonio hit 53 percent of its shots, getting assists on 14 of its 25 makes.

The Knicks allowed Spurs guards, in particular Tony Parker, to get in the lane too easily. San Antonio has 28 points in the paint. The penetration has also opened up mid-range looks for San Antonio, which is 7-for-10 from shots taken between the arc and the paint.

Parker has 10 points and six assists and Tim Duncan has 10 points and six boards. San Antonio’s outscoring the Knicks by 13 with Duncan on the floor.

MELO MAKING AN IMPACT WITHOUT SCORING: Carmelo Anthony had a quiet first half on the offensive end, scoring four points on 2-for-7 shooting. Given the fact that Anthony’s the Knicks’ leading scorer, you’d think that would be a bad thing for New York.

But Anthony’s found other ways to impact the game.

He’s saved two loose balls going out of bounds that have led to Knicks baskets and has four rebounds and two assists. He also has a few passes that have led indirectly to baskets -- also known as a ‘hockey assist.’

Anthony’s been guarded by the burly DeJuan Blair. It will be interesting to see what adjustments he and the Knicks make at halftime to get him going on offense.

Ray Felton has helped fill the void with 11 points, including two made threes. Rasheed Wallace snapped an 0-for-13 streak from beyond the arc by drilling two threes in the first half. He has eight points. Ronnie Brewer has added seven points, finding open seams in the Spurs’ D to get a couple of easy buckets.

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