W2W4: Sacramento Kings vs. New York Knicks; February 12th, 2014

Posted by Kenneth Teape on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 with No comments
By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Sacramento Kings vs. New York Knicks

Pre-Game News and Notes

The Knicks and Kings will be tipping off Wednesday night for the last time before the All-Star break and ending what has been disappointing first halves for each team. The Knicks came into the season with high expectations after making it into the second round of the playoffs last season. The Kings came into the season with a new coach and outlook and made moves all throughout the first season to try improving their team, but they look to be heading for the lottery for an eighth season in a row. This is an important game for the Knicks as the hot seat for Mike Woodson is on fire and after the All-Star break the schedule is not easy as they will play four games in four different cities in five nights. Here are some things to look for in the game tonight.

-Player News and Notes

Kenyon Martin will be out of the lineup again for the Knicks, meaning more playing time for Amar’e Stoudemire and Jeremy Tyler again. The two have played extremely well recently with the extended minutes and are two of the brighter spots currently on the Knicks.

For the Kings, starting point guard Isaiah Thomas is dealing with and playing through a sprained wrist so it is something to keep an eye on. You would think that would help the Knicks slow down the undersized yet dynamic point guard, but you wouldn’t have known from the stats he has put up in the games since that was announced.
Rob Carr/Getty Images

-Opposite of Road Warriors

The Kings, who are one of eight teams currently with a worse record in the NBA than the Knicks, struggle mightily on the road. The Knicks need to take advantage and take them out of the game early on from the start. The Kings are on a seven game losing streak on the road and shooting only 41 percent from the field over that time. This is a game the Knicks need and should win.

A big problem over that span is Rudy Gay, who has struggled since returning from his Achilles injury. He has scored only 19 points on 6-23 shooting in his two games back. Gay also struggled in his last appearance at Madison Square Garden, going 4-21 from the field last February as a member of the Toronto Raptors.

-Melo Bounce Back

The Knicks were ultimately done in Sunday afternoon against the Thunder because of an uncharacteristic scoring output from Carmelo Anthony, who shot 5-19 for only 15 points. The Knicks will need more out of their leading man to top upper echelon teams such as the Thunder and even the lower tiered teams like the Kings. Anthony had been on fire before facing off against the Thunder and will look to get back on track tonight.

The fourth quarter is the point to keep an eye on Anthony. He is playing heavy minutes this season, leading the NBA at 38.6 per game. This could be having an effect on him down the stretch of games, as he struggles shooting in the fourth quarter with a career low 36.7 percent. He is 0-8 in his last two fourth quarters; both losses to top Western Conference teams in the Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers. 

-Man behind the Mask

J.R. Smith suffered a small fracture in his left cheek bone Sunday afternoon when he fell and was kneed in the face by Kevin Durant. He was able to return to that game but looked like a boxer who had just gone a few rounds. Smith will not let that keep him off the court, as he has been fitted for a mask and is expected to suit up Wednesday night.

Smith, like many of his teammates, struggled to shoot the ball Sunday as Anthony faltered the rest of the team followed suit. But like Anthony, Smith had been playing some of the best basketball of the season prior to that, averaging 18.2 points per game on 46 percent shooting in his last 11 contests. He will also look to get back on track against a soft Kings defense that surrenders 103.6 points per game.

**Update: J.R. Smith will actually not be playing tonight. The mask he was supposed to wear came in late and he was uncomfortable playing with it so he will be out tonight. Tim Hardaway Jr. is expected to see an increase in minutes and Iman Shumpert will be more relied upon as well.**

Match up of the Game: Tyson Chandler vs. DeMarcus Cousins

Chandler will have his hands full tonight with Cousins, quite possibly the best overall Center in the NBA and easily the most talented offensively. Cousins is the main cog in the Kings plans and they go as he goes, evident from the 0-9 record they have in games he did not play in or finish. On the season he is averaging 22.6 points, 11.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.6 steals per game, all above his career averages and career highs at this point.

Chandler will need to be on top of his game tonight for the Knicks to pull out the victory. He has struggled at times this season, seeming to lack the emotion and toughness that the Knicks expected from him game in and game out as their defensive anchor. Tonight his defense on Cousins will be important but the Knicks would be smart to get him a little involved offensively. Cousins is foul prone and if they allow Chandler to go at him a little with occasional post ups or constant coverage in the pick-and-roll they could frustrate him and take the Kings most important player out of the game completely.