Melo took advantage, scoring 17 of his team's 22 points in the first quarter. In the second, the Knicks locked down defensively and converted in transition, outscoring the Heat 37-22. Melo (game-high 24 points) left the game in the waning seconds of the period with an arm injury, so that's something to monitor. But it didn't appear to be serious.
Here are four other observations at the half, in which the Knicks lead big on the East-leading Heat, who have won 13 in a row:
1. Amar'e Stoudemire's playmaking. The power forward made an impact early in the second quarter, which gave New York the momentum to dominate the period. Stoudemire hit a jump shot, blocked a Dwyane Wade layup, drew a charge on Norris Cole, kicked to Jason Kidd for a 3-pointer and then drove baseline and dunked on Chris Andersen. After Anthony carried the Knicks in the opening period, Stoudemire gave them another needed punch.
2. Kidd regains his 3-point rhythm. In the past three games, the point guard didn't hit a single 3 -- and he hadn't had a game with at least three long balls since Jan. 5 against the Magic. Well, in the first half, he was 4-for-5 from downtown. Steve Novak, however, was 0-for-2 and the Knicks were 6-for-17 (35.3 percent).
3. Chandler's effectiveness off slip screens. The center has great timing when coming to set picks. He either knows when to show a hard stance or quickly slip to the basket as a fake maneuver. One time, he did it in a half-court possession, in which Raymond Felton found him, and then on a breakaway, getting fed by Anthony.
4. Take care of the ball! During the Knicks' recent 4-5 record, they've only been averaging 16.2 assists and 12.6 turnovers per game, compared to just 10.6 turnovers when they started 18-5. In the first half, they had 14 assists and nine turnovers. This needs to be corrected after halftime, as the Heat, featuring Wade and LeBron James, feasts on steals in the backcourt, which enables them to take advantage on fast breaks.
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