Facing the Jazz without Carmelo Anthony (right hamstring), Amar'e Stoudemire (right knee debridement) and Tyson Chandler (neck strain), Mike Woodson went with his smallest starting five of the season: Pablo Prigioni, Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Chris Copeland and Kenyon Martin.
That turned out to be effective on both ends of the floor as the Knicks shot 40 percent from 3-point range (6-for-15) and they scored 21 points off of 14 turnovers (seven steals). The Knicks only had eight turnovers, but one costly mistake toward the second quarter enabled the Jazz to convert in transition and build their lead.
Here are four other main observations at the half:
1. Sold interior defense. Martin, Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas, with their veteran experience, didn't make anything easy for Utah's young frontline. In addition to the Knicks bigs' toughness and smart timing, their teammates helped out with aggressive double teams. The Jazz finished with only 10 points in the paint. The Knicks, on the other hand, without their big three, had 18 points in the area.
2. Martin's hustle. Martin's four first-quarter points came off two offensive putbacks, including a two-handed dunk off a Felton missed layup. Martin also connected well with Felton in a pick and roll, but the power forward missed both foul shots. In addition to his offensive abilities, he had five rebounds, four offensive, and a steal.
3. Chris Copeland's offense. Once again, the 29-year-old rookie showed off his scoring versatility. He hit a 3-pointer, scored out of the low post with a tenacious back-down on Paul Millsap and he had two strong drives late in the second quarter to put the Knicks ahead, 42-36. He also delivered a nice pass to Shumpert for the first of key back-to-back 3s late in the second period.
4. Thomas plays. Earlier in the day, the Knicks had to deal with yet another injury development. This time it was relevant to the backup center, who was diagnosed with a bone spur in his right foot. But in a promising sign for the short-handed team, Thomas did play against the Jazz. He hit a midrange jump shot, dished to Jason Kidd for a 3-pointer and took two charges, on Alec Burks and Mo Williams.
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