Pre Game News and Notes
Hornets vs. Knicks: MSG 12noon
Sunday afternoon’s matinee will the second and last meeting between the Knicks and Hornets this season with the roles being reversed this time around. After the first meeting, the Knicks were riding high with a healthy roster and an 8-1 record while the Hornets fell to 3-6 without main pieces Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis; this afternoon the tables will be turned. The Knicks this time are on a tail slide, going 3-6 in their last nine games and suffering through a rash of injuries while the Hornets, aided by the return of Gordon, have gone 5-1 in the six games he has played. This game is being called a must win by Carmelo Anthony, as the Knicks will look to break their three game losing streak and end the Hornets four game winning one. Here are some things to watch for in the game:
-How Will they Matchup?
How the Knicks match-up with the Hornets will go a long way in deciding the outcome of the game. The Knicks will have a problem right off the bat, as the Hornets start a very tough back-court to defend in Greivis Vasquez and Eric Gordon.
One problem they present is their size, as Vasquez stands 6’6” and delivers in all stat categories, averaging 14.2 points, 9.2 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. His running mate Gordon can score against anyone in one-on-one play from all over the court and is averaging 15.7 points per game since returning from his knee injury.
Mike Woodson will have a tough time deciding who guards who, as both Vasquez and Gordon can get to the basket at will on either isolation’s or pick-and-rolls; this will prove to be a problem for the Knicks as they were unable to even contain the lesser Kirk Hinrich against the Bulls Friday.
Playing a more traditional lineup with two bigs leaves Woodson with fewer options in the starting lineup so Jason Kidd and James White will have the first crack at slowing down the dynamic Hornets back-court. Whoever Kidd ends up guarding will most likely be the featured player in the offense, as he is not the same defensive player on-ball as he is off-ball at this stage in his career.
-Olympic Front Court Matchup
The Knicks sport two Team USA members in their starting lineup in Anthony and Tyson Chandler, but the Hornets have one of their own in Davis, who presents some big time problems for the Knicks.
If Anthony and Davis are matched up against each other, Anthony will hold the size advantage as he outweighs Davis, is not the above the rim player Davis is; Anthony is more of a below the rim player. This could present a problem for Anthony, who will have his hands full in keeping Davis off the boards and out of the paint.
Chandler will most likely see time against Davis as well and that will be a matchup to keep an eye on as both players play above the rim and play the catalyst role for their respective teams on the glass and on defense.
-Can the Knicks shake the cobwebs?
For the Knicks, slow starts have been their downfall in this recent slide of lackluster play; falling into huge deficits right off the bat has become a troubling trend for the Knicks recently. In their past eight losses, slow starts have been a big reason why as the Knicks have outscored their opponent in the first quarter only once.
There are two things the Knicks can do to start turning those slow starts around; playing with tenacity and energy, and talking on defense.
Talking on defense is a big part of being successful and recently the Knicks have not been doing it; during telecasts you can hear the opponents talking and yelling on defense but the Knicks are silent as a mouse. This is where the Knicks have missed Rasheed Wallace, who was always talking while on the court and even on the sidelines, letting teammates know where they needed to be on the court.
It will be imperative that the Knicks get their act together starting in the matinee against the Hornets, as their perimeter rotations have been slow as players are afraid not trusting each other. The Hornets can light it up from deep behind Ryan Anderson, Vasquez and Gordon so the Knicks will need to bring it for all 48 minutes.