By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Pelicans | Madison Square Garden
When: Sunday | 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York (3-12): The Knicks return home after an 0-4 road trip that saw their losing streak grow to eight games and their overall record to points no one expected before the season. They have to be more consistent on both ends of the floor, especially against good teams like the ones they faced out west. Carmelo Anthony has done his part to carry the offense, averaging 29 points and 11 rebounds over his last eight games.
New Orleans (7-8): The Pelicans made a decision to "go for it" this summer, trading away the rights to the sixth pick in the draft (Nerlens Noel) and this year's first rounder for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. They also signed swingman Tyreke Evans to a sizeable multi-year deal to go with Anthony Davis and high-priced, but injury-prone, shooting guard Eric Gordon. They have all the makings of a playoff team, and despite some early losses to teams they should've beaten, they have the talent to compete in the NBA's strongest division.
The Numbers Game
Despite their struggles, the Knicks remain among the league's best in protecting the ball; they commit the second-fewest turnovers in the NBA (12.6 per game).
Matchup to Watch
Andrea Bargnani vs. Anthony Davis
Here's a list of the players with a higher Player Efficiency Rating (PER) than Anthony Davis' 28.3: LeBron James (30.4). That's it. Only the four-time MVP has been better this season in the number that strives to measure overall contribution to the game. Davis can do it all, using his length and instincts to cause havoc on defense, while adding a 3-point shot this year that makes him as deadly on the offensive end. Bargnani will have to get back in transition to stop Davis' rim runs. He'll have to make use of his pump fake, altthough Davis has fantastic discipline in staying down.
What to Look For
After beating the Bucks on opening night, the Knicks have lost six straight games at Madison Square Garden, so expect great effort today in front of the home crowd. Tim Hardaway Jr. had good game off the bench in Denver, scoring eight points and continuing to show that he's ready for the big stage. He could earn more minutes if J.R. Smith continues to struggle. Iman Shumpert had a strong bounce-back game against the Nuggets, scoring 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting and pulling down seven rebounds.