After a 1-1 split at the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets entered the Garden for the first time on Wednesday.
The Nets looked to play at a slower tempo, but their misses in the first quarter, coupled with Tyson Chandler's two blocks, allowed the Knicks to push the ball and establish the pace. They also capitalized well on their pick-and-roll sets, and through isolations featuring Carmelo Anthony (17 first-half points). Where the Knicks have to improve is locking down Deron Williams (seven assists), and rotating better to close out on the Nets' 3-point shooters. Brooklyn shot 7-for-12 (58.3 percent) from downtown.
Here are some additional notes at the half:
1. The Knicks are keeping their turnovers down. In the first quarter against the Rockets Monday night, the Knicks had four turnovers. Wednesday night, the Knicks again had only four in the first half. That prevented the Nets from jumping out in transition, which has been a recent issue for the Knicks. Since Nov. 21, they were allowing 17.9 fast-break points per game on 61.7 percent shooting. In the first half, the Nets had only two fast-break points.
2. Anthony's off to a strong start. He decided about an hour before tip-off to play, after missing the last two games with a sprained left ankle. He made the right decision. In the first quarter, he scored eight points -- mostly on Gerald Wallace -- and the Knicks led 26-23. As usual, his presence benefited the Knicks' offense. When the Nets double-teamed him or clogged around him when he drove, that opened up lanes for the ball to move around quickly to shooters.
3. The Knicks got it going with their pick-and-roll. Entering this game, Raymond Felton had 21 assists this season on alley-oop passes to Chandler -- the most of any pair of NBA teammates. They connected on one in the first quarter, and their presence helped the Knicks' offense. Those two, along with Anthony, found a rhythm with this one play: Felton passes the ball to Melo in the high post, and then he gives it back to Felton on the wing. At that point, Melo and Chandler set double-screens for Felton to get open. Felton had eight points in the first quarter. The main reason the play was so effective was because the Knicks' two deadliest offensive options -- Anthony and their pick-and-roll -- were available in the same formation.
4. No Novakaine! Steve Novak is sitting out with flu-like symptoms. With Joe Johnson (13 points) and Keith Bogans getting hot from both sides of the court -- they each had three treys -- Jason Kidd, Pablo Prigioni and Chris Copeland needed to step up with with their outside shooting in Novak's absence.
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