By, Kenneth Teape – Knickswag Contributor
Pre-Game News and Notes
Knicks vs. Trail Blazers: TNT, MSG 10:30PM
The Knicks have a quick turnaround after the dismantling they received at the hands of the Nuggets Wednesday night with a game in Portland against a young Blazers team. This is most likely the most winnable game of the road trip for the Knicks and if they want to head back to New York with any good feelings a win tonight is a must. It will not be easy as the Blazers are still fighting for a playoff spot and are 20-11 at the Rose Garden. The Knicks will also have to deal with more changes to their lineup tonight, one of the things to watch for in the game tonight.
-Knicks to Be Without Two All-Stars?
The highly publicized knee injury that Carmelo Anthony suffered last week against the Cavaliers has officially sidelined him, as Anthony returned to New York and did not join the team on the trip to Portland. He will have his knee drained either today or Friday and a timetable has not yet been set. The Knicks are not ruling Anthony out for the game this weekend in Los Angeles against the Clippers.
Anthony is not the only All-Star the Knicks could potentially be without as Tyson Chandler suffered a knee injury of his own last night against the Nuggets. Chandler banged knees with Corey Brewer and fell to the ground in a heap. He had trouble putting any weight on the leg and was helped off the court by Kurt Thomas and Chris Copeland. He was seen limping out of the locker room after the game and is listed as probable for the game tonight, a huge break for the Knicks.
If Chandler is unable to go it is anyone’s guess as to what the starting lineup will look like. Mike Woodson does not leak details for the lineups until he has to, but smart money would be on James White, Thomas and Kenyon Martin joining Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert in the starting lineup tonight if Chandler is unable to go. Copeland should see an increased role tonight as well with or without Chandler in the lineup as Woodson will be in desperate need for some scoring with Anthony sidelined.
-Felton Returns Home
This is a homecoming reunion tour of sorts for the Knicks as it seems every stop a player is returning to a place they used to play at; tonight it is Felton’s turn once again. Felton played for the Blazers last season after being traded there by the Nuggets. It was a forgettable season for Felton who did not make any fans happy with his play, but he seems to have no lost love for them either.
“I think probably the worst moment I had in basketball was there, for sure,” Felton told reporters with the Knicks in Denver. “I’m not going to put it on the fans. Some of the fans there were great. I made a lot of good friends there. I met a lot of good, real Portland Trail Blazers fans there. I’m not going to talk junk about the fans there. Certain people there I don’t want to see and better not come near me.”
Felton has made it his mission to prove people wrong this season about his weight and he will be fired up to show the people in Portland that. Expect a big game from Felton tonight, as he will be expected to carry the offense in the starting unit with no Anthony.
-Contain the Perimeter
The Knicks will be going against their third consecutive tough matchup on the perimeter as the Blazers have up-and-coming rookie point guard Damian Lillard running the team. Lillard is having an outstanding rookie season and is the front runner for the Rookie of the Year award.
The Knicks will have to slow him down if they want to win tonight. The Blazers are an impressive team on nights, showing what they are capable of in manhandling the Spurs last week 136-106. If they allow Lillard to get into the paint he will pick them apart as he has capable running mates in Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews, LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson. If the Knicks are not careful they could be ran out of yet another gym tonight.