Here are three quick hits from the first half of Knicks-Raptors:
1.) SLOW AND STEADY HALFCOURT PACE
Scouts view Mike Woodson as more of a traditional halfcourt NBA coach like former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy. By the day, that's looking more and more evident. While Woody has said he's not going to go away from Mike D'Antoni's offensive system too much, the pace has changed a bit since he took over last Wednesday. It's not as much run-and-gun, but rather more patient with Lin bringing the ball up the court.
However, the halfcourt style has paid off, as the Knicks are playing efficient team basketball. In fact, in the first quarter, all five starters had at least one assist each. Overall, they had 14 assists and five turnovers in the first half. They should've only had three, but Carmelo Anthony made two very sloppy passes back to Jeremy Lin to set up the halfcourt offense.
2.) AWARENESS FOR TYSON CHANDLER
The Knics' center should teach a class on time management. Chandler always seems to know where to be on defense and offense. When opposing players or his teammates drive to the basket, he has the right idea about when to drop down for the block or dunk. Chandler makes it especially easy on the team because his sense of timing and position is impeccable. In the first half, he had eight points on mostly close-range feeds.
3.) J.R. SMITH'S EXTRA GEAR
The Knicks' bench spark has been on fire since Woodson took over. In his last three games, Smith scored 23, 16 and 11 points, including 12 3-pointers. Smith has been buying into Woodson's demand for accountability by playing more aggressively -- even attacking the boards. In addition to his six points, he had four rebounds (three offensive) in the first half.
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