Often imitated, never duplicated and seldem recipricated game preview from Will Woods:
The Knicks are coming off a game in which Raymond Felton led the team with seven rebounds, and no other Knick had more than five. Tonight the Knicks will need to redouble their efforts on the boards against a Kings team that was able to stun the Knicks early with a larger lineup. Last time these teams met the Kings had success – especially early on – starting Carl Landry at the small forward, and a frontcourt rotation of Sam Dalembert, Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins was able to take an early advantage before New York’s second unit overwhelmed the Kings in the second quarter. That win snapped a six-game losing streak and began the Knicks’ run of 13 out of 14; tonight is about holding serve on home court against a less talented team that may be missing its star, Ty Evans, who has been battling a sprained left ankle and plantar fasciitis.
Projected Kings Starters:
PG – Beno Udrih: Can’t be left alone, but he’ll have his hands full with Felton bullying his way into the paint.
SG – Evans: Kings coach Paul Westphal said Wednesday that he’s hopeful Evans will be ready to go tonight. If he isn’t, it’ll be either waterbug Pooh Jeter, who made his first career start Wednesday in Boston, or the more likely option, Carl Landry, who impressed against the Knicks in November.
SF – Francisco Garcia: Started at small forward against Boston and was completely overmatched against Paul Pierce, who scored 15 first quarter points. If this lineup holds, look for Wilson Chandler – who always seems to start hot anyway – to feature.
PF – Thompson: No one seems to be able to get consistent, heavy minutes in the Sacramento frontcourt. Thompson has been ineffective lately, but if he’s on he’s the kind of active big the Knicks have been known to turn into Dennis Rodman.
C – Cousins: Coming off 4-19 and 3-9 efforts, but had been filling it up before that. Has been getting to the line more of late, but also averages a foul every 6.4 minutes, so it could be a battle of which team’s bigs can stay on the court.
Zoned Out: The Kings are one of the few teams that will throw out some zone defense in more than just emergency situations, although the way the Knicks shoot threes they may opt to just play straight up. It will be up to Felton and the coaching staff to get the guys into their zone offense in time to get a decent shot, and Shawne Williams should take up familiar residence in his corner perch.
Without Evans: Evans has missed five games this year with various maladies, including the last three games. Without their star, however, the Kings are averaging 106 points per game, up from 97 points per game overall. Ordinarily I would say that means Ty Evans isn’t a point guard and won’t help any team win anything, ever, but I keep being told the opposite, so I’ll just be quiet.
And Ty Evans Didn’t Even Play!: Paul Westphal after the Kings’ loss to the Celtics: “I think sometimes we have the tendency to think it’s time for me to get a shot rather than it’s time for us to execute and find a shot.” When Evans is in the lineup, that quote changes to, “I think sometimes we have a tendency to think it’s time for me to watch Tyreke do whatever he wants and try to remember if I left my resume in the printer.”
Small-Time Problems: Hey, do you like these unfunny subheadings I’ve been giving all these little bullets? Do they enrich your reading experience? No? Anyway, small forward has been a revolving door for Sacramento all year; at present, Donte Greene appears to have played himself out of the rotation, and the Knicks will see a steady diet of Garcia, Landry, and Omri Casspi. While none is having a breakout year, each presents a different style for the Knicks to defend, so look for Westphal to figure out what’s working – in November, it was Landry at the three – and play the hot hand in crunch time.
First Quarter Issues: In their first matchup with the Knicks, Sacramento jumped out to a 27-14 lead after one quarter. Lately, however, the Kings have been getting run off the court early: the Raptors made their first 10 shots (only time that’s happened this year) and 15 out of 20 to start the game; Sacramento fell behind 38-19 after one quarter in Washington; and the Celtics were up 8-0 early before things evened somewhat.
Broken Wings: The Kings have had difficulty defending wing players this season. Recently, Joe Johnson and Carmelo Anthony did their usual thing, but they then gave up 28 points on 13-20 shooting to DeMar DeRozan, 43 points to Nick Young, and 25 points in 27 minutes to Paul Pierce.
Out of all those performances, I just have to stop and reiterate how insane it is that any team gave up 28 points to DeMar DeRozan. In that game, three of his made field goals came outside the paint; it would be a season high but for his recent 37-point outburst in Houston, in which he made four shots outside the paint. It’s one thing when a guy gets hot and starts throwing shots in from everywhere – DeMar DeRozan never gets hot, ever! Bottom line: Wilson Chandler, go get your shinebox. Let’s also see if Landry Fields takes this opportunity to create some offense for himself outside of his usual array of back cuts, spot-ups and offensive boards.
Also, Broken Wings! That’s a winner. Someone hose me down!
And a Bonus Quote to Remind You How Far DeMarcus Cousins Has Come: “Sometimes we are being too easy. All the layups we allow teams to get, we shouldn’t allow it.” Ok then.
And a Bonus Tweet from Mr. Tyreke Evans: “Thanks @VSPVisionCare for the recap of my year so far: You’re right – vision is important to my game.” He’s not talking about court vision, obviously. But it’s true – you need great vision to do 130 on I-80! ************************************************************************************* As of right now we have no official word on Evans’ status, but it appears he’s going to try to give it a go. Obviously he’s a matchup problem for the Knicks and gives the Kings a puncher’s chance, but this is still obviously a game the Knicks ought to win – even with a looming nine minute, minus-15 showing from Roger Mason. The Knicks figure to see something of a new-look team from what they saw last time – Evans may not play and former starter Luther Head is out of the rotation – but the Kings don’t appear to have any better idea of how to distribute their minutes than they did in November. Sacramento has also lost its last 12 away from home. Let’s show Sacramento that you can’t win led by two headcases like Evans and Cousins – well, I guess the rest of the league has pretty much shown that. Well, let’s just get a win and call it a day.
N.B.: Looks like Amber Rose is through with Amar’e Stoudemire and has traded down for Wiz Khalifa. Although I wish all the best to Amber, Wiz, his plane, the Jetsons and Mr. Spacely, I hope that Amar’e isn’t too broken up about the whole thing – and if he is, that he lets his aggression out in the form of repeatedly teabagging DeMarcus Cousins tonight.