With Mike Woodson resting almost half of his roster on Wednesday night, new Knicks acquisitions Earl Barron and Quentin Richardson, who previously played in New York, stepped up well in big minutes. While Richardson had three rebounds and a 3-pointer, which he's known for, Barron scored seven points -- all in the first quarter -- and grabbed 11 rebounds (four offensive).
A downer was Pablo Prigioni spraining his right ankle toward the end of the opening period. While X-rays were negative, he will not return to the game.
Here are three main observations at the half:
1. The latest one-two punch: No Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, but the Knicks had Barron and Prigioni run screen sets together to perfection in the first quarter. Barron set solid screens to free up Prigioni from 3-point range, and Barron worked the pick-and-pop well to create space from midrange. In the opening period, while Barron had seven points on 3-for-5 shooting, Prigioni was 3-for-3 (two 3-pointers). On one play, Barron dished to Prigioni cutting backdoor through the middle of the lane for a layup.
2. Chris Copeland's strong interior presence: He scored a game-high 18 points on a couple of drives and outside shots, but mostly inside the paint with his aggressive low-post positioning and moves around the basket, including deceptive head fakes. He also followed up one of his misses with a short hook putback. From about five minutes remaining in the second quarter until the halftime buzzer, he scored six straight buckets.
3. Iman Shumpert's all-around play: He had seven points, five rebounds and four assists. He worked well off pick-and-rolls and pushed the ball quickly down the court, finding Copeland one time for a 3-pointer. His playmaking has gradually improved since returning on Jan. 17 from a left ACL repair.
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