Pre-Game News and Notes
The Knicks will look to get back on track after two lackluster performances against the Charlotte Bobcats and Indiana Pacers. Tonight will be the kickoff to a franchise matching long home stand of eight games. This will be a make-or-break stretch of the season for the Knicks; they can use the home court advantage to get back into the playoff race or if they drop the ball like the last two games can virtually kiss the playoffs goodbye. They will face only two teams currently over .500 over the home stand; the Clippers tonight and the Miami Heat to close it out. Here are some things to keep an eye on for the game tonight.
-Player News and Notes
The Knicks suffered a lot more than a loss last night against the Pacers. They lost Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin to left ankle sprains. Stoudemire is hoping to be back within the next week but Martin’s timetable is unknown currently. It is the same ankle that gave Martin problems during the preseason and early parts of the regular season. This does not bode well for the Knicks as Tyson Chandler is still working his way back from an upper respiratory infection. Expect Jeremy Tyler to see his first extended minutes of his Knicks career tonight as the Knicks are severely shorthanded against an explosive Clippers front line of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
Tim Hardaway Jr. re-injured his surgically repaired left wrist and will be questionable at best tonight. If he is unable to go the J.R. Smith benching will definitely come to an end as he will be relied upon to replace all of Hardaway Jr.’s minutes. Pablo Prigioni will be out again tonight and is targeting Monday for his return to the line.
For the Clippers they will be without Chris Paul tonight and for a couple of more weeks.
-Guard the Perimeter
|Debbie Wong/USA Today Sports|
The Clippers struggled in the first game without Paul, losing to the San Antonio Spurs 116-92. But in the four games following that they have been on a tear, scoring 101, 111, 123 and 129 points. A big reason for the strong play in Paul’s absence is the return of J.J. Redick and play of backup point guard Darren Collison.
Redick has been scorching in his return to the lineup, scoring 19 and a career high 33 in his two games since returning. Collison has been a monster taking over for Paul, averaging 16.6 points on 61.5 percent shooting from the field, 50 from the three point line and 85.7 from the foul line, adding 7.2 assists as well. The Clippers have relied heavily on the three pointer without Paul and have been connecting at a good percent; in their last four games the Clippers are a combined 46-118, good for 38.9 percent. On the season they have shot 33.9 percent from the three point line.
The Knicks will have to make sure the Clippers do not get going from deep or it will be a long night. In addition to Redick and Collison the Clippers have more than capable three point shooters in Matt Barnes, Jared Dudley and former Knick Jamal Crawford.
-Match-Up Of the Game: J.R. Smith vs. Jamal Crawford
Carmelo Anthony and
Griffin will get all the attention and spotlight will be on them throughout the night. The real show will be between the two bench players and former Sixth Man of the Year award winners in Smith and Crawford.
The two of them will be matched up throughout the game and have been connected the past few years because of how good of sixth men they are. Smith took the crown from Crawford last year, but this year the two could not be performing any differently. Smith’s play has cratered after off-season knee surgery and has become as disobedient and defiant as ever. Crawford has continued his great play off the bench but also stepped into the starting lineup when Redick was hurt and played well too.
Much like Smith with the Knicks, Crawford is the main scoring option off the bench; he just has done it more consistently this season. Smith has played better recently in-between his benching though and for the Knicks to get back on track Smith playing well will help. The match-up between Smith and Crawford will be a fun one to watch tonight as Crawford has said he always loved playing at
as a Knick and as an opponent. Madison Square Garden