The Knicks are hanging around in their fourth and final regular-season meeting with the Nets, despite being outscored 20-14 in the paint and outrebounded 27-16. The Knicks are having a difficult time against the Nets' size and they're relying too much on outside shots.
Here are four other observations at the half:
1. Iman Shumpert's Garden debut. He played five minutes in the first quarter, as predicted by Mike Woodson due to the combo guard's playing-time restriction since his knee recovery. While Shumpert didn't score, he played hard-nosed defense on Joe Johnson when he attacked off the dribble. A couple of times, however, Shumpert got caught in a switch and was late reacting to Johnson on the wing. That's when the Nets shooting guard connected. Johnson was 3-for-3 from downtown and finished the first quarter with 11 points.
2. Carmelo Anthony's pick-and-roll playmaking. In the first half, Anthony scored 18 points, many off pick and rolls -- from jump shots and driving layups -- and he also found Tyson Chandler inside. Melo's point-forward play enabled the Knicks to get more looks down low, which need they more of in the second half. They didn't have a free throw attempt until 1:58 remaining in the opening period.
3. Jason Kidd's defense on Deron Williams. The Knicks' starting point guard forced D-Will into two turnovers in the first quarter. Kidd never let Williams out of his sight and he bodied him well when he penetrated. On one drive, Kidd blocked a shot; another time, he forced D-Will to lose the ball out of bounds. Offensively, Kidd knocked down two 3-pointers.
Speaking of point guard defense, Pablo Prigioni went right at Williams when he checked into the game. Prigioni picked him up almost full court and played him aggressively. Prigioni's defense came in handy on one possession, when he intercepted a Keith Bogans pass, and then Anthony pushed the ball and delivered to Chris Copeland for the dunk.
4. Knicks' lack of interior defense off the bench. When Amar'e Stoudemire subs in for Chandler, that poses a problem defensively. In the second quarter, the Nets collected too many offensive rebounds. One by Kris Humphries led to a Bogans 3-pointer. Another time, Humphries drove right by Stoudemire easily for a dunk.
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