Saturday, March 17, 2012

Knicks' strong 2nd half defense leads to win third straight

New York continued their strong defensive play and handily defeated Indiana 102-88. The Knicks earned their third straight win under the Woodson regime and looked energetic and aggressive on the boards in the second game of a doubleheader. The final score was deceptive of the game's competitive nature. The Pacers got off to a quick start and led at the end of the first 35-33. The Knicks slowed the Pacers' scoring in the second quarter holding them to 16 points. Defense was key to this defensive swing as the Knicks forced 6 turnovers in the second. The Pacers missed Danny Granger's presence in the period. Granger played the entire first quarter and scored 8 points. But he went cold when he returned in the second quarter going scoreless on 0 for 4 from the field. He finished with only 11 points. The Knicks went into the half with a 60-51 lead.

But the Pacers kept themselves in the game, closing the gap to a single point early in the final period. But New York took firm control of the game on the merits of a 19-5 run that was spearheaded by Jeremy Lin. Lin finished with 19 points, 6 assists, and 7 rebounds. Lin was also fairly careful with the ball. He had only two turnovers and shot 60% from the field. Amare Stoudemire had a strong game too, scoring 16 points and hauling in 8 rebounds. Carmelo Anthony was effective scoring 16 points in 29 minutes on the court. Woodson seems to be going easy on Anthony, who is averaging 33 minutes per game on the season, but has played low minutes in the three games under coach Woodson. That might have more to do with the blowout wins than strategy. But it'll be interesting to see how many minutes Melo gets moving forward.

In the end, the Knicks bench was big in the win scoring 32 points compared to the Pacers' reserves who scored 17. The Pacers could have really used newly acquired Leandro Barbosa's scoring off the bench in this game, But Barbosa was inactive following his recent trade from Toronto. New York's other clear advantage was their ability to get to the line. The Knicks had 13 more free throw attempts and got to the line 40 times total.

The Knicks will hope to hold onto to their hot three game streak under Woodson as they head back to New York to face Toronto on Tuesday.

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