After the Knicks' Game 1 loss to the Indiana Pacers, during which Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith combined to go 14-for-43 from the field and the team shot 43.2 percent, Mike Woodson said offensive adjustments needed to be made. He said Anthony and Smith's shot selection and the team's structure needed to improve.
Heavy isolation style of play won't fly in the playoffs against top defensive teams, and the Knicks learned that the hard way, losing two games to the Celtics and the series opener to the Pacers.
"We know Melo and J.R. are our primary scorers ... but we can't always rely on those guys to score the ball every night," Kenyon Martin said. "We've got to move the ball, we've got to share the ball."
That's what unfolded in Game 2, as the Knicks made strides offensively. In fact, that victory over the Pacers marked only the first time since 1999 that the Knicks scored at least 100 points in a playoff game.
"The first game, we didn't move the ball, we didn't play good on offense and our defense was not good," Pablo Prigioni said Tuesday. "Today, totally opposite. We have patience on offense, we take better shots, we moved the ball and everything was much easier."
So what were some of those new offensive wrinkles that Woodson added? For starters, they entailed more pick-and-rolls between Anthony and Tyson Chandler, and different screen sets to get Melo catch-and-shoot looks closer to the basket. Beyond Chandler and Martin, the Knicks' guards are aggressive, strong screeners.
"We ran a few sets that we didn't run in Game 1, to get the ball from one side to another," Martin said. "We kept their bigs moving."
Woodson also stressed better spacing and moving without the ball. In Game 2, other players became threats off the dribble, creating plays and making the Pacers' defense work even more.
Here are a few examples of the Knicks' offensive improvements in Game 2:
First quarter: Chandler held the ball at the free throw corner, while Jason Kidd set a baseline screen for Smith to receive the pass from Chandler to score in the paint (he made the shot, but was called for traveling); Melo passed the ball to Chandler, Kidd set an out-of-bounds screen for Melo and Chandler handed it off to him for a jump shot.
Third quarter: Melo hit a jump shot off of a Raymond Felton back screen; Kidd penetrated into the paint from the baseline and dished to Martin for a layup.
Fourth quarter: Melo hit a jump shot down the baseline off of a double screen from Prigioni and Chandler.
The Knicks were efficient moving the ball and scoring, finishing with 105 points (on 49.4 percent shooting), 20 assists and only six turnovers. Even Anthony shot at least 50 percent from the field (13-for-26) for the first time in eight playoff games.
"Everybody [was] really just swinging the ball and getting into multiple screen-and-rolls, and it worked for us tonight," Felton said. "Everybody was getting shots. We had five guys in double figures tonight. That's the way we need to play ball."
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