The New York Knicks had to get a victory Thursday night to keep their 2013 season alive, and through two quarters of play it appears they’ll earn that much-needed win. New York leads, 40-34, at halftime in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Indiana Pacers.
Indiana entered the game leading the series, 3-1, but the Knicks used a strong start to jump out on the Pacers and haven’t looked back since. New York scored the first seven points of the game before Indiana finally got on the board with a David West layup over three minutes into the contest.
For the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony has led a balanced scoring attack with 15 points. Iman Shumpert has added five, and New York got strong play from the bench early on Thursday night. J.R. Smith and Chris Copeland combined for 14 points in the first two quarters of play.
Meanwhile, Indiana has struggled to get their offense going without starting point guard George Hill, who is out for Game 5 with a concussion.
West has 11 points for Indiana, which shot just 29.3 percent from the field in the first half.
1) Is J.R. Smith alive?
At least for one half, the answer is "yes." Smith hit a three-pointer on his first shot attempt and hasn’t slowed down from there. Through two quarters of play, he has nine points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field to go with four rebounds.
2) Can the Pacers avoid turning the ball over?
Turnovers have been an issue for Indiana, which is struggling to run a fluid offense without Hill in the starting lineup. Through two quarters of play, the Pacers have six turnovers, although it only led to three fast-break points for the Knicks.
3) Will Mike Woodson go small?
After switching to a big lineup to open Game 4 with Anthony, Kenyon Martin and Tyson Chandler manning the front line, Woodson returned to the group that started the first three games. Martin was moved back to the bench and Pablo Prigioni returned to the starting five, with Anthony transitioning back to power forward, where he played most of the early part of this series.
Through two quarters of play, the small lineup has worked.
While the Knicks conceded a bit of size down low with their starting lineup, they were able to exploit a quickness match-up when Roy Hibbert picked up his second foul midway just six minutes into the first quarter. With Hibbert on the bench the size mismatch was negated, and Indiana only had a six-point edge in the paint.
The lack of size hasn't hurt New York on the glass either. After getting outrebounded by 18 boards in Game 4, Indiana has just a 27-23 rebounding edge at halftime of Game 5.