The first half of the Knicks' most anticipated game of the season thus far is in the books. Here are some observations after 24 minutes:
1. Tyson Chandler came ready to play. In the first quarter alone, he scored eight points, running off of pick-and-rolls well and attacking the offensive glass. His scored four points off putbacks. While Brook Lopez is the better scorer, he's not as agile as Chandler, whose aggressiveness on the boards was big. He had been lacking in terms of rebounding the past two games against the Rockets and Pistons -- perhaps dealing with some pain in his left knee, as evidenced by the brace he wore Sunday afternoon and Monday night. But Chandler looks much better so far.
2. The Knicks' ball movement is slower. Raymond Felton is used to running the point with Jason Kidd as his sidekick, and together they speed up the team's perimeter rotations. But Felton is on his own Monday night with Kidd out with back spasms, and you could sense the ball movement slowed down a bit. In fact, the Knicks sometimes ran double-screens with Chandler and Rasheed Wallace for Felton to get more room to operate, and therefore create easier plays for his teammates.
3. Ronnie Brewer is locking up Joe Johnson. In the first quarter, Johnson didn't even score. And Deron Williams was held to only five points, although he did have five assists. Williams pushed the ball well in transition, finding Gerald Wallace and Keith Bogans in transition for 3-pointers. It was the long balls (five of them) that kept the Nets in the game in the first half. Entering the game, Knicks opponents were shooting 39.3 percent from downtown (the second-best mark in the league). The Nets attempt a fair share of 3-pointers anyway (20.3 per game), and are looking to exploit this weakness.
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