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Thursday, October 11, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Knicks 108, Wizards 101

By Jared Zwerling

Box Score

WHAT IT MEANS: Who said it's about making stops? The defensive-minded Mike Woodson coached the Knicks to a shooting rampage in their first preseason game, as they shot 18-for-33 (54.5 percent) from beyond the arc.

TURNING POINTS: The Knicks led the first quarter by 17 points, which was sparked by solid pick-and-roll play between Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler in their first game together. The team scored 38 points off 11 assists (Felton had four of them; eight for the game), as they were able to get deep penetration and rotate the ball well. With all of the offseason talk about Felton's conditioning level, after admitting he was out of shape last year in Portland, he looked good, pushing the tempo well and exploding off the dribble in transition and isolation.

But from the start of the second quarter, with mostly an average first-time lineup of Felton, Pablo Prigioni, John Shurna, Steve Novak and Chris Copeland, the Wizards went on a 22-0 run and tied the game. The Knicks were sorely lacking the pick-and-roll presence of Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire (injured) or Marcus Camby (injured), who would've been able to open up more scoring lanes and create defensive mismatches off switches. Instead, the Knicks got stagnant in their sets and settled for mostly jumpers.

The game was close until the end of the fourth quarter, when Steve Novak (see below), J.R. Smith (20 points off the bench; 8-for-11 shooting) and Prigioni (14 points; 4-for-8 from three) heated up from distance.

DIFFERENCE MAKERS: Novakaine! The league's best 3-point shooter last season (47.2 percent) shot 7-for-7 from downtown. He was the team's leading scorer with 21 points. Carmelo Anthony (17 points) gets the runner-up vote with his hot shooting in the first quarter, punching in the points (including two 3-pointers) that gave the Knicks the huge lead.

Last season, Melo struggled through right thumb and left wrist injuries, which affected his accuracy. Now that he's healthy -- many believe, including Walt Frazier, that he's in the best shape of his career -- Melo's long bombs will be a big asset to the Knicks. While everyone's looking forward to him posting up more, don't forget about his renewed outside stroke, which he showed off during the Olympics. It will cause further frustration to defenses because they'll have additional ground to cover. Melo at 6-8, 230 pounds could actually be the most over-shadowed stretch four in the league.

INJURY REPORT: Stoudemire (bruised left knee), Camby (left calf strain), James White (sore right hamstring), Rasheed Wallace (conditioning), and Ronnie Brewer, Iman Shumpert and Chris Smith (all knee-related).

WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks travel to the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., on Oct. 13 to take on their biggest Atlantic division rival, the Celtics, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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