The Indiana Pacers have the early lead in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals, carrying a 52-46 advantage into halftime thanks to hot shooting and a defensive effort that didn't let the sustain their hot start.
The Knicks looked like they'd feed off an excited Madison Square Garden crowd early, with a 11-0 run towards the end of the first quarter putting them up seven. Raymond Felton operated perfectly out of the pick-and-roll, hitting a series of floaters to finish the half with 14 points on just eight shots.
But the Pacers bounced back with D.J. Augustin providing a spark. The reserve point guard drilled a trio of threes to finish with 10 points -- more than twice his seasonal per-game average of 4.7 points. David West also added 10 points, scoring off of penetration and his signature 18-footers.
A Paul George three with two seconds left pushed Indiana's lead to six, their largest of the game. George also has 10 points as part of Indiana's balanced scoring effort.
Patrick Hayes asked three questions in his game preview -- here's a look at how those storylines have played out.
Can the Pacers solve the Iman Shumpert problem?
Nah: Shump was playing some of his finest ball early. The Pacers' starting five has one more big than New York's, and that left David West on the second-year wing out of Georgia Tech. Shumpert played within himself to get the advantage in the mismatch, driving when West tried to take away the jumper and shooting when the step-slow West sagged off. Toss in a three-pointer, and Shumpert had nine points in the first half.
Can the Pacers make things tough on 'Melo?
More or less, as multiple defensive looks from Indiana led to a relatively ineffective half from Anthony, who had 10 points on 13 shots.
Paul George was the guy on Melo at the start, and he did a pretty decent job bottling him up. The NBA's Most Improved Player didn't give Anthony any openings and jostled with him all the way to the bucket, forcing him into misses on his first four shots.
However, Anthony did perservere. He immediately nailed an and-1 jumper when Sam Young came into the game, drilled a mid-range jumper over West, and when Ian Mahinmi blocked one of his forays into the paint, he grabbed the ricochet and finished the job with a layup. Certainly not Anthony's best half, but also not along the lines of the disasters that made some think the Celtics had a chance of pulling off their comeback in the first round.
Young deserves credit for one of the worst stretches of play a role player has had in recent memory: in addition to the and-1, he threw an errant entry pass, dropped a perfectly fine kickout out of bounds, committed a carry, and made a risky play on a pass in the backcourt that allowed for a Knicks three, helping contribute to the 9-0 run.