Before the game, while analyzing the Knicks' matchup with the Clippers, Mike Woodson said, "Statistically, we're pretty close in terms of our style and how we play."
But things weren't close in the first half as the Clippers had the extra gear on offense. The Knicks hurt themselves with their sloppy passing and careless fumbling of the ball, and the Clippers are like a pack of hungry wolves when gaining possessions.
Here are three main observations at halftime:
1. Knicks' transition defensive issues. The Clippers generated their lead mostly off fast-break points, which has been hurting the Knicks lately. Today, Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe looked to run nonstop on the Knicks whenever the Clippers secured a rebound. And they converted with driving layups and a couple of 3-pointers.
The Clippers are one of the few teams in the NBA that excels in both offensive paces -- transition and halfcourt -- and that has confused the Knicks' defense, which has been struggling lately. Not only do the Clippers have backcourt speed and finishing ability, but their frontcourt, featuring Griffin and Jordan, attracts a good amount of attention, which opens things up for the team's guards.
2. However, their interior defense was solid. Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire all brought something defensively to the paint today. Melo started off on Blake Griffin and utilized his quick hands to cause a turnover. Then, Chandler applied a lot of pressure on DeAndre Jordan in the low post, preventing the Clippers from even taking a shot in the first half. Later, Stoudemire showed off the athleticism he still has and blocked Lamar Odom's dunk attempt.
Overall, the Knicks' bigs have been lacking some physicality at the start of games, which had been a problem against Minnesota on Friday night. The issue has partly lead to their recent poor first quarters. They've been tough at times this season -- like in their win against the Celtics on Jan. 24 -- but not consistently.
3. Anthony is carrying the team, once again. While the Clippers had 12 assists in the first half -- Paul had five of them (and 16 points) -- the Knicks only had six. That was because they went to Anthony early and often in the game. There was not much creativity in the offense, and while Melo had 20 points, the simplicity of the Knicks' offense hurt them as they trailed in the game.
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