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Wednesday, February 20, 2013
W2W4: Knicks at Pacers

By Ian Begley

The Knicks lost three of four before the All-Star break. They'll try to get back on track as they tip off the second half of the season tonight in Indiana.

Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.; here are a few things to watch for:

BALL MOVEMENT? The Knicks (32-18) are facing one of the top defenses in the league. Indiana (32-21), which has won 16 of 18 at home, went into the break leading the NBA in both opponents' field-goal percentage (41.7 percent) and opponents' per-game scoring average (89.9).

The Knicks had a tough night on offense in their last outing, scoring just 88 points in a loss to Toronto.

Mike Woodson said Tuesday that his team needs to improve its ball movement. Carmelo Anthony, who missed the Knicks' first game in Indy due to a suspension, agrees.

"I think sometimes we stand around and try to make things happen, and sometimes (when) things don't happen, we're just looking around," said Anthony, who has played increasingly in isolation in recent games.

"I think we saw that in games that we've been losing. That's been one of the key problems."

The Knicks average just 19.7 assists per game, the second-lowest total in the NBA.

DE-FENSE? Another priority for the Knicks in the second half is to tighten up the defense.

New York has struggled to defend point guards for most of the season. As a result, the team's defense has fallen off of a cliff since a strong start to the season.

In the first nine games, the Knicks ranked fourth in defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) and sixth in opponents' field goal percentage en route to an 8-1 start. Since then, they've ranked 19th in defensive rating and 22nd in opponents' field-goal percentage (46.3 percent).

BREATHING ROOM: Thanks in part to their recent slide, the Knicks open the second half just 1½ games ahead of third-place Indiana in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers have played extremely well without Danny Granger. They are unlikely to get Granger back for Wednesday's game, but he's expected back soon. So Indiana probably is going to be battling the Knicks for seeding the rest of the way. That makes tonight's game even more pertinent. A loss means Indy is just a half-game back of the Knicks.

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