Carmelo Anthony didn't play in the Knicks' first matchup against the Bulls on Dec. 8 because of his left finger laceration. But he was in the lineup tonight, and his decent first half (13 points), along with J.R. Smith's 13, prevented their team from falling even further after the Bulls built a double-digit lead early and simply dominated.
Here are several observations at the half:
1. Jason Kidd's impact. After the Knicks went down 14-2 with 7:05 to play in the first quarter, Kidd had an offensive rebound and then passed to Anthony for a 3-pointer. Then, Kidd had a defensive rebound, pushed the ball in transition and found Smith for a 3-pointer. On the next Bulls' halfcourt offensive set, Kidd doubled down on Carlos Boozer and forced him to make a bad pass. Those three straight possessions gave the Knicks some life in the opening period.
2. Where in the world is Tyson Chandler? You've got to give a lot of credit to Bulls center Joakim Noah for defending the Knicks' pick and roll. In the first quarter, Chandler didn't even score. That forced the Knicks to settle for more isolations, but Anthony and Smith did connect. What was also missing, once again, was their 3-point shooting. Against the Bulls the first time, they shot 8-for-23 from downtown, and tonight they finished the first half 3-for-12. In addition, they got outrebounded 31 to 20. Woodson warned reporters before the game how active the Bulls' frontcourt is -- featuring Noah, Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer -- and their pressure down low was evident.
3. The Knicks got hurt in mismatches. There was a stretch in the second quarter when the Knicks' lineup consisted of Pablo Prigioni, Kidd, Smith, Steve Novak and Kurt Thomas. Prigioni on Nate Robinson and Kidd on Deng did not help. Both Bulls scored almost at will, increasing their team's lead. Woodson, for the most part, realized that lineup wasn't generating stops or points, so he subbed out Prigioni and Thomas for Anthony and Chandler. Melo scored a few points right away, but the Knicks dragged the rest of the way.
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