Out of the 23 shots the Knicks took in the first quarter, 12 of those were 3-point attempts -- and they made a ridiculous nine of them. Only J.R. Smith, Pablo Prigioni and Kenyon Martin didn't hit one. That long-range accuracy fueled the Knicks to their first-half lead, as they finished the first two quarters with 12 3s.
With a win on Tuesday night (or a Nets loss), the Knicks will clinch the Atlantic Division crown and it will guarantee them home-court advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs.
Here are four other main observations at halftime:
1. Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd's playmaking: In the first quarter, Felton put his stamp on the game all over the court. He first ran off of a double-screen set by Martin and Carmelo Anthony for a 3-pointer; he slid backdoor, received a pass from Prigioni and then swung it to Iman Shumpert for a baseline corner 3; he pushed the ball all the way off of his own defensive rebound and scored a fast-break layup; and then he penetrated deep into the paint in the closing seconds of the period, contorted his body mid-air and dished to Chris Copeland at the top of the key spotting up from downtown.
In the closing seconds of the second quarter, he stole the ball from John Wall and converted a layup, finishing a strong first half.
Kidd was all energy in the second quarter, pushing the ball well and setting up plays to get Steve Novak open from 3-point range. Novak was 3-for-5 from downtown. At 40 years old, Kidd still has great wheels up the court.
2. Shumpert's resilience: In the early stages of the first quarter, his assignment, Martell Webster, beat him off of a back screen. Then, Webster burned him to the basket when Shumpert went to double team Nene. Mike Woodson saw enough and called a timeout, initially getting on the second-year player. But when Shumpert stepped on the court again, he made an impact right away. He intercepted a pass from Wall, pushed the ball and passed to Prigioni for an outside shot. Then, in two following possessions, Shumpert knocked down two 3-pointers.
3. Melo's cross-court passes: He had three of them in the first half from the low post when he was getting double-teamed or right before the pressure. He's already a danger to defenses on the block, but his court awareness is an added weapon to the team.
4. Containing Wall: The Wizards starting point guard scored 21 points on 7-for-13 shooting from the field and 7-for-9 shooting from the foul line. He's been a beast in transition and off of pick and rolls, which he's been since March 12. Since then, he's been averaging 24.8 points, 8.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game. But the Knicks were able to limit the other Wizards players.
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