Here are three main observations at the half:
1. Amar'e Stoudemire's low-post moves. When the Knicks couldn't buy a bucket from outside, Stoudemire (nine points) kept his guys in the game with his on-the-block scoring. He was basically their only inside threat. The Knicks were able to get to the line in the first quarter -- 6-for-8 -- but that diminished in the second. They only had four free-throw attempts in the second.
2. Transition offense. Midway through the second quarter, the Knicks picked up their defense and then pushed the ball better to score three times in transition. On one possession, Jason Kidd stole the ball from Brandon Jennings, Anthony dribbled down and found J.R. Smith for the fastbreak dunk. Another time, Smith pushed the pace and dished to Raymond Felton, who then found Kidd in the corner for the 3-pointer. Then, Felton took it all the way himself for a layup.
3. Kidd's defense. If you look at his first-quarter stat line -- 0 points in seven minutes -- it obviously doesn't say much. But his effort and presence prevented the Bucks from scoring perhaps 10 additional points in the first quarter. After he blocked Monta Ellis' drive early in the game, he went on to help make five stops -- whether it was by contesting shots or getting active with his hands on a help-side defensive play.
On the negative side, the Knicks were poorly positioned defensively coming back down the court. First of all, they were slow to get into a defensive stance and get active with their hands. Several times, Jennings pushed the ball in transition, was able to get in the lane and find Ellis and Ilyasova open for 3-pointers.
In other possessions, the Knicks' switches were off and Stoudemire was caught guarding Jennings or Mike Dunleavy on the perimeter. Felton has to step up his pick-and-roll defense, especially because Iman Shumpert is not where he needs to be mentally. The game is still coming back to him.
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