By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Wizards | Madison Square Garden
When: Monday | 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York (7-16): The Knicks are coming off one of their most impressive wins of the season on Satuday, a start-to-finish victory over the Atlanta Hawks. Without Kenyon Martin or Raymond Felton, Carmelo Anthony turned in a brilliant, 35-point performance to lead New York past the Eastern Conference's third-best team. Amar'e Stoudemire, considered questionable after playing four games in five nights, not only suited up but delivered another efficient outing -- he's averaging 14 points on 69 percent shooting over his last six games.
Washington (9-13): After winning seven of nine, the Wizards enter tonight having lost four in a row. They are holding onto a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but need their offensive efficiency (23rd in the NBA in points per 100 possessions) to catch up to their defense (11th) if they want to make any noise down the road. They are without budding star shooting guard Bradley Beal, who is out indefinitely with a right leg injury, and big man Nene is listed as questionable for tonight with tendinitis in his foot.
The Numbers Game
When the Knicks win, you can usually count on them winning the possession battle. That was the case against Hawks, as they forced 27 Atlanta turnovers to only 11 of their own, and finished with 21 more shot attempts.
Matchup to Watch
Tim Hardaway Jr. vs. Otto Porter
Both rookies, two very different NBA careers so far. After struggling through Summer League, Porter, the 3rd overall pick out of Georgetown, missed the first 18 games of the season with a hip injury. In the four games he's played since returning, he's scored just four points. Hardaway, on the other hand, has been lighting it up for the Knicks off the bench, producing the third best player efficiency rating among rookies after being taken 24th overall. "Rook" has impressed his teammates and coaches with his poise and NBA readiness, both supposedly qualities of the Porter, who was considered perhaps the "safest" pick in the draft.
What to Look For
Center Marcin Gortat said following Washington's loss to the Clippers that it was the first game which the Wizards had no chance to win, that they just weren't as talented as the opponent. Nevertheless, the Wiz have John Wall, the point guard whose talent is no secret to Knicks fans. The lightning-fast former Kentucky Wildcat put up 31 points and seven assists the last time these teams met, and containing him is the first priority tonight. He is a one-man fastbreak, but he proved last month that he can knock down free throw line jumpers if given too much space coming off screens....In place of Martin, Mike Woodson elected to start J.R. Smith on Saturday and go small with Melo at the 4. Even though Smith wasn't much of a factor, the Knicks' spacing was noticeably improved, as was their activity in the passing lanes on defense.