By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Bobcats | Madison Square Garden
When: Tuesday | 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: After Sunday's loss to the Timberwolves, the Knicks look to rebound tonight in the first half of a home-and-home set against the visiting Bobcats. New York mounted a second half comeback against Minnesota, but was unable to climb out of the hole dug by early turnovers and fell to 1-2 on the young season. Defensive improvement was the primary emphasis of training camp, and the fact that they rank sixth in the NBA in defensive efficiency is encouraging, even though it's still early.
Charlotte: The Bobcats are playing hard and playng with energy under new coach Steve Clifford, according to Knicks assistant Jim Todd. That's the first step for a franchise that has been a fixture at the top of the draft lottery for years. There is young talent -- five key Bobcats are first-round picks under the age of 25, including this year's No. 4 pick Cody Zeller -- and the priority is building a winning culture. That may be a year away, but with a heap of draft picks coming in this year's stacked draft, they feel the foundation may finally be in place.
The Numbers Game
After leading the league in fewest turnovers committed last season, the Knicks rank 13th in the NBA through three games, with 53 turnovers (17.7 per game).
Matchup to Watch
Raymond Felton vs. Kemba Walker
Walker, the Bronx native, makes another appearance at the World's Most Famous Arena. In the Knicks' preseason finale, his 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists were key to Charlotte's comeback win, and containing him tonight will be crucial. The Bobcats currently rank 29th out of 30 teams in offensive efficiency, so the Knicks making Walker -- who took 20 shots in the preseason matchup -- and his teammates work for their buckets is crucial. Felton assumes the responsibility of pushing the pace but also protecting the ball, something his coaches are stressing as they prepare for tonight.
What to Look For
Part of the process of getting comfortable with new pieces is learning to incorporate everyone's talents into the flow of the offense. Coach Todd pointed out that Carmelo Anthony has made a special effort to involve Andrea Bargnani and Amar'e Stoudemire, but, as he said: "Great players also get their own. We need him to do his thing, that's why he gets paid the big bucks." Bargnani, who is 10-for-17 with 25 points in the last two games, will be in the starting lineup again tonight, which means another chance for this new unit to grow into what the team hopes it can become.