Here are three quick hits from the first half of the Knicks-Pacers game:
1.) DEFENSE, DEFENSE AND MORE DEFENSE!
After the Knicks' blowout 121-79 win over the Trail Blazers Wednesday night -- Mike Woodson's first at the helm -- Tyson Chandler had this to say about the interim head coach: "I expect him to really hold guys accountable on defense. That's what he came here for. I expect him to stand over guys defensively and make guys work, hold guys accountable."
Well, that's exactly what happened in the first quarter. The Knicks were a step ahead and on top of every Pacers' move in their halfcourt sets, clogging their space and causing them to take an extra dribble to no prevail. The Knicks held the Pacers, the fifth seed in the East, to 14 points on 5-for-22 shooting and only six points in the paint. Wednesday night, they limited the Blazers to 12 points.
Notably, Chandler did a fabulous job guarding All-Star center Roy Hibbert one-on-one and Jared Jeffries applied excellent pressure as the help defender -- even full-court -- on Darren Collison, limiting his floor game to two assists in the first half. In one play in the first quarter, Jeffries raced back full speed from an opposite end defensive trap to block a shot at the basket. The Pacers also committed six turnovers in the first period.
2.) EFFICIENT POINT GUARD PLAY
Jeremy Lin and Baron Davis combined for only one turnover in the first half. That hasn't been the case at all since both players have been in the rotation together. Both of their scoring was solid in the first half. While Lin had nine points, B-Diddy was Novak-esque with his shooting. He was the leading scorer off the bench with seven points on a perfect 3-for-3 from outside jumpshots (one 3-pointer).
3.) NO LAPSES
The Knicks sustained their effort, energy and hustle in both quarters. They showed no letdown. Now they have to continue that in the all-important third quarter, where the Knicks have been struggling against formidable opponents. They were averaging around a -10.0 scoring margin in the period last week in losses to the Mavericks, Spurs, Bucks and Bulls.
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