Thursday, May 3, 2012
Halftime: Knicks 40, Heat 36
By Jared Zwerling
Here are four quick hits at the half of the Knicks-Heat game:
1. The Knicks' zone defense worked. After getting beat on pick-and-rolls and post-up plays in the first quarter -- basically a lot of inside buckets -- the Knicks changed their defensive strategy towards the end of the first quarter, and it proved to be effective. From 4:06 until the buzzer sounded, the Knicks went on a 9-0 run. And it all happened after Jared Jeffries checked into the game for Steve Novak to play alongside Tyson Chandler. Together, both bigs anchored a flawless interior D. Combining their close-out effort in the first period with their production in the second, the Knicks outscored the Heat 30-17 going into halftime.
2. But one thing that didn't work was passing. The Knicks were lazy with the ball and the Heat were right there to eat up their misdirections. That's a big no-no against the Heat, the best fastbreak team in the league with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. At the half, the Knicks had more turnovers than assists (eight to six) and the Heat had seven fastbreak points, while the Knicks only had two. Towards the end of the second quarter, the Knicks stepped into the Heat's passing lanes well, especially when they were in transition, and even disrupted James' ability to see the floor. The Heat star had four turnovers at the half.
3. After standing around the perimeter, watching Carmelo Anthony go to work, they got a lot more active towards the end of the first quarter though the second. They went away from settling for jumpshots -- even Melo (eight points) -- and set more screens for each other, which opened up more gaps on the floor to help them get to the basket and draw fouls. The Knicks attempted 10 free throws in the first half, making nine.
4. Landry Fields stepped up. In the first quarter, Fields played hesitant and sloppy, not looking to shoot and once making a bad backwards pass in what should've been an easy fastbreak finish. After Mike Woodson called on J.R. Smith to sub in for him, the coach was in Fields' face in the next huddle. But in the second quarter, Fields came alive, attacking quickly in the halfcourt and getting to the line, and he finished with nine points at the half. Speaking of Smith, he knocked down a couple of key jumpshots for eight points, but he has to find his way into the offense a bit better to get easier looks (he was 3-for-11 from the field).