By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Kings | Madison Square Garden
When: Saturday | 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: It was another game, another 2nd half of domination for the Knicks last night against Milwaukee. After giving up 53 points in the 1st half -- including 16 to Ersan Ilyasova -- they clamped down to allow 33 after halftime and only three to Ilyasova. After the game the team spoke about trying to be more aggressive defensively, and it showed as they limited Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings to 30 points combined, 10 below their season average...The Knicks are now on a three game win streak...Raymond Felton had an X-ray after the game on the pinky he appeared to re-injure, but it came back negative and he should be ready to start against Sacramento...Jason Kidd reported that he felt fine in his return from lower back issues.
Sacramento: The Kings have been fixtures in the draft lottery the last last half decade, and that does not figure to change this season. They are 17-31and rank dead last in defensive efficiency. League average for Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is 15, and only supposed franchise cornerstones DeMarcus Cousins (20) and Tyreke Evans (18.2) currently rank above 16. The Kings have some talent, including the 4th pick in last years draft, power forward Thomas Robinson, but so far it's been a struggle for head coach Keith Smart's group.
Last Time Out
New York: After another shaky start, the Knicks pulled away in the 2nd half to defeat the Bucks, 96-86.
Sacramento: The Kings lost in Philadelphia Friday, 89-80 -- their sixth loss in their last seven games.
The Numbers Game
During the Knicks' current 3-game winning streak, they have outscored their opponents by a total of 34 points in the 2nd half; At halftime of these games, they have been tied twice and trailed by 6 once.
Matchup to Watch
Tyson Chandler vs. DeMarcus Cousins
For one thing, Cousins is the most watchable King. He's prone to emotional outbursts and has yet to establish himself as a reliable franchise player in his third year in the league, but no one doubts that he has the talent of an All-Star center. This year, he's averaging 17 points and 10 boards and, unlike many of the big men Chandler has guarded -- or many in the league, for that matter -- he is a true low post scoring threat. While Cousins is mobile for his size, Chandler is the better athlete, so he should be able to put pressure on Cousins and the Kings in pick-and-roll situations.
What to Look For
As we've noted, the Knicks have struggled with slow starts of late, but another one against the Kings would be surprising. Evans is the type of perimeter player who could challenge them, but he is not a 3-point threat, so creating a wall against him, as Woodson stressed was the strategy against Ellis and Jennings, should do the trick. The Knicks should get whatever they want against Sacarmento's defense, so they should stick to their formula that's been working: Felton-Chandler pick-and-rolls, Carmelo Anthony isolations, and Amar'e Stoudemire attacking the backet from the low blocks.