The Knicks have dominated the Pistons in three games this season, winning by 21 points Nov. 25 and by 15 on Jan. 17 in London, and now they're up 21 at halftime Monday night. In each of the previous games, their 3-point shooting was overwhelming, which has been the case again tonight. After shooting 19-for-43 (44.2 percent) from 3-point range Saturday night against the Kings, they're at 10-for-20 (50 percent) so far tonight.
Here are a few observations at the half:
1. Knicks' efficient half-court defense and rebounding. Guarding the ball, they took advantage of the Pistons' slower pace, getting into the right positions quickly to close out lanes and contest jump shots. Detroit appeared to operate more patiently because of Jose Calderon's first game with the team, and the point guard and his teammates were trying to feel each other out early on.
The Knicks' airtight perimeter defense completely diminished opportunities for the Pistons' bigs, especially Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. They finished with just four combined points. And Tyson Chandler was in control of the glass, finishing the half with 11 rebounds -- three offensive -- which was four more than Monroe and Drummond combined.
However, the Knicks struggled getting back on defense. In fact, "transition defense" was Mike Woodson's first key on the whiteboard in the team's locker room before the game. While the Knicks had only one fast-break point, the Pistons had 15. Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum were fast and furious down the court. Raymond Felton needs to anchor things better in the backcourt, especially containing opposing point guards in pick-and-rolls.
2. Carmelo Anthony's playmaking. Woodson was smart to go to Anthony early and often with his mismatch on Kyle Singler. And it paid off. Not only did Melo account for the Knicks' first four buckets, he scored or facilitated 13 of the team's first 15 points.
On one possession, he drove baseline and kicked to Iman Shumpert on the baseline who then dished to Jason Kidd for a 3-pointer. Then, Melo delivered a skip pass to Shumpert for another 3-pointer. Melo finished the half with a game-high 19 points.
3. Pablo Prigioni's improved 3-point shooting. Through Dec. 31, Prigioni shot only 34.9 percent (15-for-43) from 3-point range. But from Jan. 1 through Feb. 3, he picked that up to 48.3 percent (14-for-29).
Tonight, he was 1-for-1 (three points total in the first half) and had an assist to J.R. Smith for a 3-pointer. Overall, the sixth man was 3-for-7 from downtown (10 points), and Anthony was 3-for-4. The Pistons were just 2-for-8.
4. Smith's air ball. With 11:06 left in the second quarter, the sharpshooter wasn't sharp at all from the charity stripe. In fact, he completely missed the net on his first free throw attempt.
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