The Knicks and Pacers are playing a fairly slower-paced game, with each possession being a grind-out one. There have been no quick points at the start of the plays and no quick ball movement leading to open jumpers. Overall, there's been no easy buckets for either team. Defense has ruled the afternoon, which is where we start with the first of four observations:
1. Shutdown D: Both teams are shooting poorly (the Pacers are at 26.3 percent). They're even worse from 3-point range (the Pacers are at 25 percent). With all the misses, the Garden crowd has been the quietest its been all season. What was especially effective was Tyson Chandler's defense on Roy Hibbert. He was able to force the Pacer center away from the basket during his moves, and his shots were off-balanced with a hand in his face. Hibbert finished the first half 1-for-6 from the field with six points. Overall, the Pacers have 10 turnovers (the Knicks only have two).
2. Carmelo Anthony's hot start: Anthony, once again, gave the Knicks a boost at the start of the first period, scoring 12 points. With the defense keeping both teams at bay, Melo was needed to give the team an early separation on the scoreboard -- something the Knicks have maintained all season. In fact, entering Sunday, they held the second-best average first-quarter scoring margin (+4.3) after the Thunder (+4.8).
3. Jason Kidd's resilience: After Lance Stephenson knocked him on the right side of the head during a 3-point attempt in the first quarter, Kidd went to the locker room to receive seven stitches. But he returned to action, wearing a headband to cover the wound.
4. Raymond Felton's fight: With the Knicks' offense sputtering in the second quarter, Felton knocked down three straight jumpers, including a 3-pointer, to put the Knicks up eight points, 35-27 with three minutes remaining. The starting point guard, who has nine points at the half, has shown the same resolve all season, including Friday night in the fourth quarter when the Knicks were down 20 points. He made sure that even if his guys were going to lose, he wanted to set an example that he wouldn't go down without swinging. Woodson said before the game that Felton's been "everything and more for us."
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