Even with Mike Woodson resting Carmelo Anthony more in the second quarter on Saturday -- he played 43 minutes on Friday -- the Knicks hung in there, outscoring the Raptors in the period, 38-30. While Melo scored 19 points, Alan Anderson, who put up a career-high 35 points on Friday, only has nine so far tonight. In addition, Kenyon Martin had another huge first half (11 points, six rebounds, a steal and a block).
Here are four main observations at the half:
1. Quicker first quarter. The 0-for-12 3-point shooting to start the game for both teams meant longer rebounds and more transition scoring. While the Raptors had nine fast-break points, the Knicks had seven, and their season average per game is 8.9 -- second-worst in the NBA. Raymond Felton was explosive, as he usually is in the open court, and put on a hesitation move to get by Kyle Lowry for a layup.
Then, Iman Shumpert pushed the ball off a defensive rebound and dished to Martin for a dunk. On a following possession, Shumpert stripped DeMar DeRozan, pushed the ball and found Pablo Prigioni, who passed it back to Shump for a breakaway layup. Later, Anthony stole an Anderson pass and took it all the way down himself for a layup, and one.
2. Melo's strong start. On Friday night, he started off 5-for-15 in the first half. But Saturday night, he was much more efficient. His 19 points came on 6-for-11 shooting from the field and a perfect 7-for-7 from the foul line. He scored most of his buckets in the paint off the dribble, proving his right hamstring is really pain free. In addition, he spun well out of the post and got great lift off his turnaround jumper, which he connected on a couple of times. He also had a steal, an assist and three rebounds.
3. Bizarre lineup, but beneficial. To rest some of his starters on the second game of a back-to-back, Woodson went with an unusual five for the top half of the second quarter. It consisted of Felton, Jason Kidd, J.R. Smith, Steve Novak and Chris Copeland. Besides a few uncontested Raptors layups and Copeland picking up two fouls, the unit's offense -- a 3-pointer each by Novak and Copeland, who also finished a pick-and-roll with Smith -- helped the Knicks build momentum in the period and finish ahead at halftime.
4. The birthday boy. Kidd, who turned 40 on Saturday, didn't score in 12 minutes off the bench. But he did have a big steal in the first quarter. With 2:17 remaining, he forced Anderson into a turnover and then pushed the pace, which ended up with a Martin putback layup. Toward the end of the second quarter, he connected with Martin, his former teammate in New Jersey, on an alley-oop dunk.
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