After falling behind 14-2 in the first quarter and then giving up the most points in the period all season (36), the Knicks went on an 18-3 run in the second to take the four-point lead.
Here are three observations at the half:
1. Amar'e Stoudemire's strong play. He's getting better game to game. In one of his first back-to-the-basket opportunities, he made a great heads-up skip pass to Carmelo Anthony (18 points) in the baseline corner for the 3-pointer. Then, in the one of the next possessions, Stoudemire (six points) attacked on the block and got fouled. Overall, he was 4-for-4 from the free throw line, and the Knicks have been desperately looking for more appearances at the charity stripe. Defensively, STAT made a big play, taking a charge against Arron Afflalo.
Also off the bench, J.R. Smith was big once again. He had 10 points (5-for-10), and a steal he had late in the second quarter, leading to a fastbreak layup, capped off that 18-3 run by the Knicks. In addition, Steve Novak hit two 3-pointers, helping the Knicks go on that huge second-quarter run.
2. Jason Kidd's all-around effectiveness. Early on, Magic point guard Jameer Nelson came out fast, driving by Kidd with ease, and firing, shooting 2-for-3 from downtown in the first quarter. While the matchup was challenging for Kidd against the speedy Nelson, he knew he had to at least play more aggressive offensively for the Knicks when they were down 14-2 early on. Kidd (five assists and just one turnover) started to attack better off the pick-and-roll, finding Tyson Chandler inside. Then on one of the following possessions, he picked up the pace after the defensive rebound and dished to Anthony for the 3-pointer.
In addition to his attacking and assisting, Kidd had a passing-lane steal, which led to a fastbreak finish by Melo. The starting point guard also shot 2-for-4 from downtown. He's among the league leaders in 3-point percentage.
3. Where's the inside presence? When Chandler and Marcus Camby started together for the first time of the season on Thursday night, they helped hold the Spurs to four points in the paint through three quarters. But in the opening period tonight, the Magic had 14 points in the paint. Nelson (12 first-quarter points) and Afflalo (seven) got in the lane pretty easily. Nelson, especially, took advantage of the older Kidd, and Ronnie Brewer didn't step up in his matchup with Afflalo, which didn't make Mike Woodson too pleased on the sideline.
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