The Knicks went down 17-5 with about five minutes to play in the first quarter, but they got a big boost from Carmelo Anthony in the second period with his 14 points (22 in the half). But the Knicks have a lot of work to do defensively.
Here are several observations at the half:
1. The Knicks got caught in mismatches: Even though the Nets were without Brook Lopez, his replacement, Andray Blatche, still made their starting five big. But Mike Woodson elected to go smaller and start Anthony at the 4. Not only did that put more pressure on the Knicks' defense, but so did the Nets' star backcourt. Woodson called for double-teams on Joe Johnson, who was guarded by Jason Kidd, and that, coupled with Deron Williams running the pick-and-roll well, caused the Knicks to switch a lot early on.
That caused many mismatches, encouraging the Nets to post and, therefore, score inside easily. Tyson Chandler was not always around to protect the rim because he, too, was caught out of position, occasionally away from the basket. In the first quarter alone, the Nets had 18 points in the paint thanks to Blatche's 12 first-quarter points. The Knicks had only two, a layup by Anthony, and they were down 14, 30-16. What didn't help was Chandler receiving his second foul, which came from the misaligned defensive schemes. In the second period, the Nets went right at Chandler, and they continued to score inside.
2. Where's the ball movement? The Nets have improved defensively this season -- holding opponents to 93.7 points per game entering Tuesday night -- but well enough to limit the Knicks' two-PG attack? Kidd and Raymond Felton had a hard time creating and finding Chandler for his usual lob finishes. Blatche did a nice job defensively on Chandler in the half -- he's quicker than the slower-footed Lopez on defense -- but the Knicks couldn't get their pick-and-roll going.
Instead, they resorted to giving the ball to Anthony in isolation and the post -- and he did light it up from the end of the first quarter to the end of the second. He had 22 points on 8-for-13 shooting, and the Knicks won the second quarter, 33-23.
On the flip side, Williams was able to penetrate the Knicks' defense and move around the court at will, enabling his teammates to get open shots from everywhere. While the Knicks shot 45 percent in the first half, the Nets were at nearly 60 percent.
3. Rasheed Wallace provided a punch: The backup center returned to action after missing Sunday's game with a sore left foot. In eight minutes off the bench, he scored five points -- a 3-pointer and a putback -- and had four rebounds.
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