Here are three quick hits from the first half of the Knicks-Spurs game:
1.) TONY PARKER IS THE NEXT PG TO PREY ON THE KNICKS
In the Knicks' 115-111 loss to the Celtics Sunday afternoon, Rajon Rondo finished with a historic stat line: 18 points, 20 assists and 17 rebounds. Then on Tuesday, while Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd didn't have a triple-double, he scored 15 points and went off from downtown (3-for-6). In the first quarter tonight, Spurs point guard Tony Parker scored 10 points, with no problem getting into the paint. He had 23 overall in the first half.
Even defensive specialist Iman Shumpert, who replaced Landry Fields in the starting lineup, couldn't contain the speedy Parker. But it wasn't just on the rookie. The Knicks' pick-and-roll defense was too loose and not contained enough. The Knicks showed no pressure and rotated poorly, providing no help defense. Midway through the second quarter, the Spurs had 22 points in the paint. Keep in mind Tyson Chandler did not suit for the first time this season (hamstring strain).
2.) CARMELO ANTHONY CAME OUT AGGRESSIVE AND ...
Accurate. All three times this season Carmelo Anthony scored in the low 10s in a game, he bounced back with a big performance. After shooting 2-for-12 against the Mavericks for a total six points, he scored eight in the first quarter alone, including two 3-pointers. Amare Stoudemire also picked up from where he left off Tuesday night, when he scored 26 points.
Amazingly, STAT has lost 10 pounds just in the past week, and his lighter frame seems to be helping him get to the basket faster and draw fouls, which he did at one of the highest rates in the NBA last season. On Tuesday, he was 6-for-8 from the free throw line and through the first quarter, he was 3-for-4.
On the down side, while Anthony and Stoudemire started off strong, the Knicks couldn't find any team cohesion in the second quarter. Isolation took over and the Knicks lacked ball movement, hurting Anthony and Stoudemire's output as well. There were too many perimeter jumpshots and not enough penetration.
3.) THE KNICKS' SUBS PROVIDE A SPARK, ONCE AGAIN
When Fields, Baron Davis and Steve Novak checked into the game in the first quarter, the Knicks were down a few points. But at the start of the second quarter, Novak hit a 3-pointer and then Fields made two straight baskets to put the Knicks up two, 30-28. The Knicks' second unit has been delivering when the starters haven't been. While the first half doesn't speak much to this point, the subs keep providing a boost.