By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Bobcats | Madison Square Garden
When: Friday | 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: For all their recent success, it had been a while since the Knicks had beaten one of the NBA's "elite" teams. Now, you can't control who's on your schedule, and winning six in a row without Tyson Chandler -- especially in Boston -- is no small feat. But when Memphis game to the Garden and it turned out that Marc Gasol would play, the Knicks would have a chance to dispose of that lingering critique. They responded by establishing a 30-point lead before halftime and hanging on for a signature win. Indeed, they are on a roll.
Charlotte: The Bobcats own the league's worst record, at 17-54. They are known for futility, having won only seven games last year, but they hope that things are beginning to turn around. They've gone 4-4 in their last last eight games, and a few of their young players have shown promise. In particular, the backcourt of Kemba Walker (17.5 ppg, 5.6 ast.) and Gerald Henderson (15 ppg, 37% from 3) gives them a chance on most nights.
Last Time Out
New York: The Knicks built a 30-point lead thanks in part to an explosive start by Iman Shumpert, and hung on for a 108-101 win against Memphis on Wednesday at the Garden.
Charlotte: In a matchup of the to worst teams in the NBA, the 'Cats beat Orlando, 114-108, on Wednesday.
The Numbers Game
J.R. Smith continued with his commitment to attacking the basket, getting to the free throw line a season-high 13 times against Memphis (he made 12). He's now averaging 8.4 trips to the line per game over his last eight games.
Matchup to Watch
Iman Shumpert vs. Gerald Henderson
For our matchup tonight, we have a guest scouting report from Bobcats blogger, Ben Swanson (@CardboardGerald on Twitter): "Henderson is simply playing at an impressive level with consistency since about the All Star break. He's scoring well shooting, getting to the hoop and drawing fouls. It's a contract year for him but I think we're seeing legitimate development. He's also a solid rebounder, defender and passer; right now it seems he's putting it together."
Shumpert appears to be taking his game to another level, as well. He's now shooting over 40% from 3 for the season, and remains one of the Knicks' best perimeter defenders. We know that Mike Woodson will use different looks to defend Henderson, but count on Shump to get a turn.
What to Look For
Even without Chandler, who is being called questionable for tonight, the Knicks have begun to hit their stride as the playoffs approach. The ball is moving on offense, scorers are attacking defenses, and the result is high-percentage looks all around. Expect them to continue to be conservative with Chandler, whose return to full health takes priority over his immediate return to the court. With Pablo Prigioni and Kenyon Martin in the starting lineup, there is no shortage of energy and commitment on the defensive end...The Bobcats are not a pushover, especially lately. Once an isolation-heavy offense, they've improved since trading for Josh McRoberts, who shoots 50% from the floor and is a good -- and willing -- passer.