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Monday, April 18, 2011
Bill Walker steps up in Melo's early absence

By Jared Zwerling

It may have been the shortest amount of time Carmelo Anthony has ever started a game. Only a minute and 28 seconds into the first quarter, Melo picked up his second foul and was replaced by Bill Walker. But worrisome grew to "Wow!" when Walker all of a sudden started looking like the Knicks' No. 1 option, scoring seven points in about three minutes.

While Walker didn't score after that point, he put his stamp on the game in just two minutes less of court time than the man ahead of him on the depth chart, Landry Fields. In fact, Fields finished with zeros across the board, except for one rebound in 19 minutes (Walker played 17).

Expect not only to see Walker play additional minutes in Game 2 because of Fields' ineffectiveness, but Mike D'Antoni may call on him more if Chauncey Billups sits next game with a left knee injury suffered tonight. Walker has been coming on strong as of late, tallying four double-digit scoring outputs in April.

I spoke with Walker after the game to see how he exploited the Celtics' defense, how he's adjusting to D'Antoni's perimeter-based offense and what Ray Allen does so well to get open.

When Melo sat early in the first quarter, you came out attacking. How were you able to find the open lane?
I think they were just running me off the 3-point line a lot, so it was wide open coming off pindown [screens] and stuff like that. I just had some open seams where I can get in the lane and make some plays. And that's what I'm best at -- just getting in the lane and finishing.

Have there been any new moves or plays you've been working on in practice particularly to prepare for the Celtics?
Not really. I mean, I've worked on the same thing all year every day, so it's more or less just getting in there and just knowing when the spots are to attack and when not to. That's it.

When you watch Ray Allen move without the ball, what does he do that separates himself from other shooting guards in the league?
He uses his hands very well. He uses his hands and his body. He'll be running full speed, stop, hit you and go around. He sets his guys up well and that's how he gets open. And then once he gets open, he has all day to shoot. He's got some great big men setting some screens for him. They play for each other. KG and Jermaine are setting that screen on us that's going to get Ray open shots. They do a great job at that.

Playing within Mike D'Antoni's offensive system, how has your scoring approach changed? Does the game flow better for you?
Yeah. I mean, I'm still in an adjustment, man. I played off the ball and under the basket my whole career, even in college. And then coming over here and making that adjustment, I've only been playing on the wing for a year and a half, really. So it's an on-the-job learning process. I don't think I'm too bad at it, but I'm just learning every day.

What did you notice differently from the Celtics in the second half?
I don’t know. We just had a 13-point third quarter. It’s not good for us. We’re not going to beat a lot of teams with that kind of output. We gave up a lot of offensive rebounds and we basically didn’t get enough stops to get out of here with the offensive rebounds. And with them converting them, it’s really deflating.

What will you look to change in Game 2?
We've just got to limit those offensive rebounds, like I said. We had enough stops to win the game and get out of here. We just let Rondo get a couple; KG had three in a row in one possession. We've just got to eliminate that and I think we’ll be fine.

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