The Knicks had a more well-balanced offensive attack on Sunday night against the Boston Celtics with nearly four players in double-figure scoring: Carmelo Anthony (18 points), Raymond Felton (12), J.R. Smith (11) and Chris Copeland (nine). A lot of the credit goes to Felton breaking down the Celtics' defense early on off pick-and-rolls and getting into the paint.
Defensively, the Knicks were able to force the Celtics into several quick shooting opportunities in the early stages of the shot clock, when there wasn't much ball flow. While the Knicks had 15 assists, the Celtics only had nine. In addition, the Knicks controlled the rebounding margin 23 to 16.
Here are four other main observations at the half:
1. Anthony's continued volume shooting and Smith's attack. Entering tonight, the Knicks' star had been only shooting 37.2 percent from the field (29-for-78) in his last three games. Against the Celtics, he was 6-for-15. While he missed more than he made, he was asked to carry the offense more with the Knicks' limited resources. His sidekick, Smith, continued to get to the basket, shooting 3-for-6 from the field and 5-for-8 from the line.
2. Copeland's instant offense. In the second quarter, playing center, he hit two back-to-back 3-pointers -- one of them off a pick-and-roll with Felton -- and then scored out of the low post with a hard drive and short floater. In his first four minutes, he had already scored nine points. In addition, Cope also grabbed a rare offensive rebound and helped keep the Celtics out of the paint in their half-court sets. His defense will be the key determining factor behind how often he plays.
Overall, the Knicks were outscored in the paint -- 26 to 12 -- but they were without Tyson Chandler (small bulging disk in neck) and Kenyon Martin only played 12 minutes in the first half because he suffered a strained abdominal muscle in the game. The Knicks said he may return in the second half.
Marcus Camby hasn't played so far because the Celtics have been playing smaller ball without Kevin Garnett (left ankle inflammation). In fact, at one point towards the end of the second quarter because of Martin's injury and Anthony resting, Mike Woodson went with a rare five-guard lineup: Felton, Smith, Jason Kidd, Pablo Prigioni and Iman Shumpert.
3. K-Mart's (missing) impact. Don't just look at his 0 points. His intangibles were huge. Here are four possessions in the first quarter, for example, where Martin was the catalyst behind the play: for the first Knicks' score, he set a hard screen for Felton to get open down the baseline for a jump shot; he set a hard screen for Felton to get open for a 3-pointer; he had a big block on a Jeff Green layup attempt; and then he made a heads-up bounce pass to Anthony who slipped behind his man backdoor and finished with a monstrous dunk.
4. Everybody loves Raymond! Right at the halftime buzzer, the point guard banked a 3/4-court shot, giving the Knicks the 17-point lead.
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