Here are three quick hits from the first half of the Knicks-Bobcats game:
1. Amare Stoudemire looked like the old STAT in the first quarter, nailing his trademark jumpshot from the foul line and aggressively attacking the basket. Stoudemire had 10 points in the opening period, on 4-for-8 shooting. Even though the opponent is the 7-58 Bobcats, the way Stoudemire came out of the gate was exactly what he should've done. He needs to build back his usual rhythm, which is a combination of quick shooting and penetration. When he hesitates, the offense can break down. Defensively, however, he's still a bit out of sync with the team rotations. It's an area that's never been one of his strong suits, but he'll have to buy in fast with a likely upcoming matchup against Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat.
2. Mike Woodson and J.R. Smith have a father-son type relationship. Woodson seems to always be on top of Smith, more than the other guys -- and that's because Smith is such a talented player, but he likes to play his own game sometimes. When Smith makes a mistake, Woodson always stares him down a bit more. But that care and attention Woodson has given to Smith is key, because the combo guard will play a big part in what the Knicks are going to do in the playoffs. Woodson keeps saying that he believes in Smith and wants him to do well in New York. At the half, Smith had 15 points in only 18 minutes. The demanding yet nurturing way Woodson handles Smith does, in the end, usually pay off.
3. The Pistons are up big on the Sixers at halftime, 65-43, so it looks very likely that the Knicks will play the Heat in the first round. For the Knicks to drop to the eighth seed, they would need to lose to the Bobcats, and would need the Sixers to beat the Pistons.
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