BOSTON -- The New York Knicks jumped out to a 24-10 lead in the first quarter, a credit to their defense and controlling the tempo in transition. Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics struggled to hit even open shots (midway through the second period); Paul Pierce was 1-for-10 with three turnovers. On the flip side, Carmelo Anthony scored 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting. Melo also got his hand in the game in other important ways, finishing with five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Here are four other main observations at the half:
1. Defense on point: The Knicks dominated the first quarter like they did the first three games of the series, and they did it with their defensive rotations, quick hands and aggressiveness. In the opening period alone, the Knicks had four steals and scored four fast-break points; the Celtics had none.
A key to the Knicks' defense was their early halfcourt trapping right when the Celtics' ball handler passed midcourt. Iman Shumpert was especially aggressive, playing all over the court. Mike Woodson said before the game that because half-court scoring would be hard to come by, they needed to collect steals and then push the ball to score. That's what they did in the first quarter.
2. Pablo Prigioni's playmaking: Woodson has credited Prigioni, once he was inserted into the starting lineup, for setting the tone of the team's offense. Well, in the first quarter, he hit three 3-pointers, fueling the Knicks to their big first quarter. The Argentine utilized his creativity and experience weaving back and forth in pick-and-rolls, which allowed him to create space to pull off his quicker release, something he's been working on in practice. He was also aggressively boxing out Avery Bradley and grabbed five rebounds in the first quarter.
3. Tyson Chandler's improved bounce: The starting center has made some progress game to game in the series. So far tonight, he has two blocks, five rebounds and four points (an offensive putback and alley-oop dunk). However, he was limited by three fouls in the first half.
4. Lack of second-chance opportunities: As the Celtics slightly clawed back midway through the second quarter, they controlled the defensive glass and then capitalized in the open court. The Knicks had only two second-chance points from an Anthony jump shot.
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