Knicks 'zzone

Newsday's Al Iannazzone takes you inside the Knicks.

Veterans get Knicks off to good start in preseason opener

The Knicks got off to a good start in their preseason debut – literally.

They scored 38 first-quarter points and after squandering, a 17-point lead beat the Wizards 108-101 last night.

Both teams are banged up and with all due respect to the Wizards they could be one of the worst teams in the league, but what you look for in the preseason is how guys play together, what units work, whether there are young guys who can make an impact.

For the Knicks it was their veterans who played well, and let’s be honest, that is what you expect from this team.

They don’t have many young guys who will be in the rotation, really aside from Iman Shumpert when he returns from knee surgery.

Just some observations:

Point guard

Raymond Felton did a good job running the team, moving the ball and getting guys open shots. He had eight assists in 21 minutes.

Jason Kidd’s shot was off, but you see how he can distribute and defend. He had three steals.

Pablo Prigioni started slowly, but got better as the game went on, finishing with 14 points and four assists and showing a nice shooting touch.

The Knicks’ shooting was remarkable last night. They were 18-for-33 from three. That won’t happen every night, of course, but they have shooters, scorers, weapons. If they move the ball the way they did last night and get everyone involved they can be an explosive team.

Steve Novak made all seven of his attempts and scored 21. Prigioni was 4-for-8, Carmelo Anthony was 3-for-3 and J.R. Smith knocked down his only shot from deep.

Smith played a strong game, showing it doesn’t matter if he starts – he just wants to play. He was 8-for-11 with 20 points, and moved the ball well, racking up six assists himself.

“J.R. was finding me, he was finding everybody,” Novak said. “He’s so good with the ball.”

“He played great,” Mike Woodson said. “That’s what he can do. He can score the ball. He’s trying to defend this year, which is nice to see.”

Woodson was asked if he might start Smith during the preseason.

“The bottom line is he came off the bench,” Woodson said. “He played great. That’s what counts. We won.”

Anthony and Tyson Chandler played their usual games in their limited minutes. Kurt Thomas was effective with his defense, toughness and setting screens starting in place of Amar’e Stoudemire. Thomas can help the Knicks on both ends, including with his shooting coming off a pick.

Chandler picked up a technical foul after retaliating for a flagrant foul from Jan Vesely. Techs were a problem for Chandler last year, but he promised they wouldn’t be this year.

“That’s it,” Chandler said. “No more. Won’t get no more for the rest of the season. You can take my word for it.”

As for the young guys, Mychel Thompson, who started at shooting guard, was 0-for-5 and didn’t score until he hit a couple of free throws late in the game.

Chris Copeland picked up five fouls in 14:34, had four turnovers and grabbed just one board. He has to show a lot more if he wants to make the team.

John Shurna hustled and knocked down a three. Shooting is his forte but he will have to do other things to stick.

“I was pretty pleased with everything I saw,” Woodson said. “The young guys were probably a little nervous so I got to help them. But I thought our veteran guys played well.”

Novak started right where he left off in the regular season – not the playoffs. He had more room to get shots off than he did against the Heat, and he didn’t hesitate when he got it.

“Jason and Raymond and those guys they put it in your hands at the right time,” Novak said. “They draw so much attention a lot of times I just stay out and let them give it to me whatever they want.”

"Maybe they'll put him in the three-point contest this year," Chandler said.

Novak’s only miss was on a floater that he shot off the dribble. It was a new move for Novak, who said he worked on it in the offseason.

Tags: Knicks , Amar'e Stoudemire , Mike Woodson , Jason Kidd , Carmelo Anthony , Tyson Chandler , Kurt Thomas , Iman Shumpert , Chris Copeland , John Shurna , Mychel Thompson , Raymond Felton , Steve Novak , Pablo Prigioni

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