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NBA Indiana PacersNew York Knicks

New York Knicks Must Play Chris Copeland in Game 6

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson needs to continue to ride Chris Copeland in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Indiana Pacers.

Copeland proved to be a revelation in New York’s Game 5 win, which narrowed their series deficit to 3-2, at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.

The 29-year-old rookie was the Knicks second-leading scorer behind Carmelo Anthony. Copeland scored 13 points — as did J.R. Smith – in just 19 minutes of play. The forward also connected on 3-of-4 three-pointers to provide the Knicks the scoring boost they needed. Copeland notched four rebounds and two steals, as well.

After playing just 12 minutes in New York’s Game 4 loss, coach Woodson installed Copeland into his rotation while continuing to limit the playing time of Amar’e Stoudemire.

The move paid immediate dividends for the Knicks. Look for Woodson to continue to give extended minutes to Copeland, who provides a versatile option for the Knicks on the perimeter. After his performance last night, Copeland has shown that the Knicks need him on the court in Game 6.

Similarly, Woodson has decided to use 36-year-old rookie Pablo Prigioni over veteran Jason Kidd. Prigioni played just over three minutes in Game 4 causing fans and NBA analysts alike to question Woodson’s use of his bench players. Meanwhile, Kidd hasn’t scored a point since Game 2 of the New York’s first round series against the Boston Celtics.

Woodson must’ve heard his critics. In Game 5, Prigioni played 19 minutes compared to just five minutes for the beleaguered Kidd.

Rookies Prigioni and Copeland have provided a shot in the arm for the Knicks throughout the postseason. New York will need their contributions when they try to extend their season and hand Indiana its first home loss of the postseason in Game 6.

Jon Krouner is the New York Giants writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @jkrouner  ”Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+