Pre Game News and Notes
Knicks vs. Kings
The Knicks will look to end their road trip on a high note with a victory in Sacramento against the Kings. Like Wednesday night against the Suns, the Knicks will be without Carmelo Anthony (hyper extended knee) and Raymond Felton (broken pinkie finger). The Kings may also be without two of their top players in Tyreke Evans (sore left knee) and DeMarcus Cousins (detrimental behavior towards the team). It went down to the wire Wednesday against the Suns, so it would not be a shock to see a competitive game again tonight.
-Who Steps Up
Wednesday against the Suns the Knicks had a number of people step up with two of their top scorers out with injury. Jason Kidd played quite possibly his best game of the season, scoring a season high 23 points and J.R. Smith pulled through with another game winner at the buzzer.
The bigger surprise was the play of Chris Copeland, who should again see significant minutes off the bench with Anthony sitting this one out. He scored 14 points and played 30 minutes after not appearing in the first quarter.
If they can show up again, a victory should come for the Knicks tonight. If James White or Ronnie Brewer can add anything offensively it would help even more.
-Ratchet up the D
On Wednesday night the Knicks perimeter defense was lacking at times as they allowed Jared Dudley to go off for a career high 36 points. There was a lack of communication for parts of the game, as pick-and-roll defense was not sound and rotations were off on multiple possessions.
Copeland and Steve Novak have to improve on the defensive end if they are going to get extended minutes; both players struggle mightily on defense. Novak especially struggles as he does not have foot speed or instincts on the defensive end to keep up with most NBA players.
The Kings have two wing players, Marcus Thornton and John Salmons, who are more than capable of doing what Dudley did Wednesday night; both can shoot the ball from deep and are versatile scorers, able to put the ball in from anywhere on the court.
-Can Second Unit Succeed?
The second unit struggled mightily on Wednesday against the Suns with Pablo Prigioni running the offense with Jason Kidd on the bench, as the Suns reeled off a 14-6 run to end the third quarter.
A problem is that Prigioni likes to play at a slower pace, but does not do the things necessary from a point guard in a half court offense. Prigioni’s thought process is pass, pass, pass and that hurts the offense at times as he does not break down the defense by attacking the paint. If Prigioni shows more confidence in his offensive game it will go a long way.
-Get Novak on Track
Novak has not been a part of the offense recently, rendering him useless while on the court; if he isn’t knocking down jumpers he has no business being out there. The problem is not all Novak’s fault though, as head coach Mike Woodson needs to get him in better position to shoot the ball. Running more plays for Novak in the half court would be a nice thing to see, as Novak will be pressed into extended minutes again tonight because of injuries.