By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
Friday, January 3, 2014
New York Knicks vs. Houston Rockets
Pre-Game News and Notes
After pulling off a surprising win last night in San Antonio, the Knicks will get right back at it tonight in Houston against the Rockets. This will be the second and final time the two teams face off against each other, with the Rockets taking the first one at Madison Square Garden in thrilling fashion. The Knicks will look to exact some revenge and get a victory tonight on the Rockets home court. Here are some things to keep an eye on during the game.
-Player News and Notes
The Knicks are expected to again be without point guards Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni. Felton has been accompanying the team on the trip but Prigioni has not. Neither player has a definitive return date in place but Felton is aiming for Tuesday at home against the Detroit Pistons. Metta World Peace is preparing for treatment on his knee; in the mean time check out his twitter account to keep tabs on the eccentric forward who is always keeping his followers entertained.
The Rockets are dealing with injuries of their own to point guards. Starting point guard Patrick Beverley broke his hand and had successful surgery last week. He will be out for the foreseeable future. In the meantime former Knick Jeremy Lin and Aaron Brooks will run the offense for the Rockets.
The Knicks have been dominated by the Rockets over much of the last decade. The Rockets have won 16 of the last 17 meetings between the two teams, including an impressive eight game streak at home. If the Knicks show up and play tonight like last night in San Antonio there is a very good chance those streaks could end tonight.
|Maddie Meyer/Getty Images|
One thing the Knicks have going for them now is Carmelo Anthony. Anthony led an impressive attack last night as he was more than willing to pass and get his teammates involved in the offense. They responded, especially Iman Shumpert, and led the Knicks to victory. Anthony should have a big game again against the Rockets tonight as he has caused problems with them in recent matchups. In the last two meetings between the teams Anthony has scored a total of 82 points, with a season high 45 in the previous meeting this season.
-Which Iman Will Show Up
Last night the Knicks got a big boost from Shumpert, who poured in a career high 27 points. He showed the confidence and swagger that he possessed prior to the first 30 games of this season when his played seemed to be affected by the trade rumors he was a part of. Shumpert also neutralized perennial All-Star and NBA Finals MVP Tony Parker on the defensive end. Shumpert’s harassing defense virtually shutout Parker down last night as he was unable to dictate the game with the pick-and-roll game he plays so well never getting started.
The Knicks will need Shumpert to keep up the defensive intensity tonight against one of the best scorers in the NBA in James Harden. Harden gets to the foul line and attacks the basket as well as any player in the NBA and Shumpert will have to play him smart to slow him down. In a game recently Harden scored over 20 points making only two shots because of how frequently he visited the charity stripe. In the first meeting this season Harden went for 36 points and nine rebounds. Against the Knicks Harden has played well over the last four games, averaging 30.3 points per game on 53.2 percent shooting from the field and 45-48 from the foul line. Shumpert will have his hands full tonight as he will attempt to put a chillin’ on Harden’s thrillin’ as Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier would say.
-Contain the Perimeter
The Knicks will face a familiar foe in Lin at the point guard position. Lin seems to get up to play against his former team as he has scored 43 points in the last two meetings against the Knicks, the second of those coming off the bench. The Knicks have struggled guarding the perimeter all season but have looked better with Toure’ Murry finally getting some playing time. Beno Udrih will likely start again but it will be interesting to see how long until Murry gets inserted as the Knicks cannot afford to fall behind early against such an explosive offensive team.
On the perimeter the Knicks will also have to deal with up-and-coming Chandler Parsons. Parsons can shoot from the perimeter and put the ball on the floor to get to the basket. He is a willing passer and rebounds well for his position, giving the Rockets a great jack of all trades. He hurt the Knicks in November scoring 22 points so slowing him down will be important this time around.
-Matchup of the Game: Dwight Howard vs. Andrea Bargnani
The Shumpert vs. Harden matchup will be a fun one to watch with Shumpert looking to have gotten his confidence back but this matchup is the one to keep an eye on. In the matchup earlier in the season it was expected that Howard would dominate the overmatched Bargnani. That didn’t happen in the slightest as Bargnani actually dominated Howard on both ends of the floor.
Howard shot 1-5 from the field and turned the ball over five times as Bargnani played him as well as anyone could in a one-on-one situation. On offense Bargnani torched Howard, shooting 9-12 overall (3-3 3pt, 3-4 FT) for 24 points. It is fair to think that Howard will come out with a different aggression and assertiveness tonight to show that Bargnani cannot repeat the performance he put on November 14th.
Tonight Bargnani will receive help if he needs it as Tyson Chandler will be in the lineup this time around.