Derrick Williams, Mickael Gelabale, Dante Cunningham -- it didn't matter. Carmelo Anthony took all of them to school in the first quarter on drives and jumpers, scoring a game-high 11 points on 5-for-9 shooting. He had 16 points overall in the first half. While the Timberwolves clawed their way throughout the game, keeping it close, it was the Knicks' six 3-pointers that gave them the advantage over Minnesota, which shot 0-for-6 from behind the arc.
Here are four other observations at the half:
1. Jason Kidd's early facilitating. Overall, the veteran point guard has consistently started games strong. That happened again tonight, which helped the Knicks take a 25-23 lead after the first quarter. He started at point guard and immediately dished to Anthony for a jumpshot. Then, Kidd scored in the paint with a fallaway jumper. On a following possession, he knocked down a baseline corner 3-pointer. He was also heads-up on defense. One time, he disrupted a pass to Williams down low, which would've led to an easy two.
2. Amar'e Stoudemire's all-around play. Here are the different ways the power forward made an impact in the first half: In the opening period, he set a back screen for Steve Novak, which led to an open 3-pointer at the top of the key. Then, at the start of the second, Stoudemire sealed off his man, received the pass inside and soared for a one-handed posterizing dunk over Greg Stiemsma -- looking like old school Phoenix Sun STAT -- and he completed the three-point play. Shortly after, Stoudemire grabbed an offensive rebound and then passed to Kurt Thomas for a jumpshot.
3. Novakaine! His first score represented a conscious effort from Mike Woodson to get Novak going after Stoudemire set a back screen for Novak in the first quarter. The second time Novak made a bucket represented the work he has put in behind the scenes. He head faked his defender, took a step inside the three-point line and hit a midrange jumpshot.
4. Knicks' defensive awareness issues. They still have a major issue not only getting back on defense, but then setting up quickly and picking up their individual assignment. Too many times in the first half, Ricky Rubio pushed the ball right by the Knicks and made something happen. They also need to put up more of a fight through screens. About three or four times, they poorly switched and Minnesota scored easily inside.
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