By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Magic | Amway Center
When: Monday | 7:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York (8-18): The Knicks' up-and-down season continued on Saturday -- they are 5-5 over their last 10 games -- as they dropped a matinee game at home to the Grizzlies. Memphis pounded New York on the glass, outrebounding the Knicks by a margin of 56-29, despite the fact that coach Mike Woodson started his "big lineup" of Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler. They were outscored, 60-28, in the paint, and unable to make up the difference from behind the 3-point line, where they got open shots but couldn't knock them down.
Magic (8-19): The last time the Magic faced the Knicks, Orlando took a 38-point beating at MSG. A team in the process of building slowly (a la the Oklahoma City Thunder a few years ago, the team for which G.M. Rob Henigan sharpened his management skills), the Magic have a promising foundation that has yet to produce consistent results. They have motivated defenders and play hard for second-year coach Jacque Vaughn, which has helped them become an average defensive team.
The Numbers Game
Tim Hardaway Jr. is making his case for Rookie of the Year consideration with the way he's progressing in his first season. Over the last 11 games, he's averaging 11.2 points on 52.9 percent shooting, 46.7 percent from 3, in 21.2 minutes per game. He ranks 5th among rookies in scoring, 1st in field goal percentage and 2nd in 3-point percentage.
Matchup to Watch
Iman Shumpert vs. Arron Afflalo
Shumpert has struggled mightily with his shot this year -- over the past eight games, he's connected on just 14 percent of his attempts. Even when he's gotten open looks, he just can't seem to find his groove. Afflalo, on the other hand, is quietly putting up All-Star numbers (21 points per game, shooting 42% from 3) despite playing for a lottery team. Afflalo's simple, yet effective, style is one Shump could strive to emulate.
What to Look For
Woodson announced before the game that Raymond Felton could make his return to the lineup tonight. If he plays, he will start, Coach said, which would create a ripple effect for Beno Udrih and Toure' Murry, who looked solid in his limited action as Udrih's backup. Murry and Hardaway provided an obvious boost of energy when they played together the last two games, a positive sign for a team that loves to create easy scoring opportunities like this in the open court.