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Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Halftime: Knicks 72, Celtics 53

By Ian Begley

A few observations from the first half of Knicks-Celtics:

Here's the thing so far about J.R. Smith: some games, the Knicks get "Good J.R."

Some games, like the afternoon he shot 6-for-22 against Chicago, they get "Bad J.R."

On Tuesday night against Boston, they got "Amazing J.R."

Smith nearly took the roof off of the Garden in the first half, hitting 7 of 9 three-pointers as the Knicks jumped out to a 19-point lead.

Overall, the Knicks knocked down an incredible 14-for-21 (66 percent) from beyond the arc. The 14 makes are a high for a Celtics opponent this season. And there are still 24 minutes to play.

Steve Novak had four. Carmelo Anthony and Iman Shumpert had one apiece.

The teams combined for 21 three-pointers.

BALL MOVEMENT: Part of the reason the Knicks knocked down so many threes -- and shot 63 percent from the floor overall -- was because of great ball movement. The Celtics are one of the top defensive teams in the league. But New York moved the ball well and got plenty of open looks from the perimeter, some off screens, some off penetration.

Eighteen of their 26 field goals were assisted.

MELO UNDER THE RADAR: Lost amid Smith's hot shooting was Anthony, who continued his stellar offensive play in the first half. He finished the half with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting. He also pulled down five rebounds (two offensive) and had six assists.

The Knicks have relied heavily on Anthony since Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin went down with injuries -- and he's responded. Entering play Tuesday, Anthony averaged 33 points on 52 percent shooting in his last 11 games -- up from season averages of 22 points on 42.5 percent shooting.

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