By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Clippers | Madison Square Garden
When: Friday | 7:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York (15-24): The Knicks return home looking to move past a disappointing road trip that saw them fall in Charlotte and Indiana on the heels of a five-game winning streak. As has been the case for most of the season, they'll be dealing with injuries tonight in the wake of Amar'e Stoudemire (ankle), Kenyon Martin (ankle) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (wrist) going down in Indy. The Knicks will have to improve on the defensive end after giving up 117 points and over 50 percent shooting against the Eastern Conference-leading Pacers.
Clippers (27-13): The Clippers have been without Chris Paul (separated shoulder) for two weeks, yet they've managed to go 4-0 since losing their first game without their star point guard in San Antonio. Blake Griffin has assumed the role of go-to guy, showcasing his abilities as a facilitator in the process. DeAndre Jordan has taken the leap many expected him to under new coach Doc Rivers, becoming a defensive force and leading the league in rebounding. J.J. Redick, the key return in an offseason trade for Eric Bledsoe, has been a perfect fit in Los Angeles' system and is coming off a career-high 33-point performance in the Clips' thrilling win over the Mavs on Wednesday. In that game, the Clippers trailed by 17 points with five minutes to go before coming back to win in the final seconds.
The Numbers Game
Carmelo Anthony was on fire in the 1st quarter last night, scoring 18 points on only eight shots to start the game.
Matchup to Watch
Carmelo Anthony vs. Blake Griffin
With all the front court injuries, expect to see these two stars mached up throughout the game. The Clippers have made an effort to run their offense through Griffin at the elbow this year, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive, especially since Paul went down. Griffin is averaging over 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists in those five games, numbers matched over a full season only by some of the NBA's all-time greats. Anthony will test Griffin on the perimeter, although we've seen Rivers use his power forward to defend the likes of LeBron James and Kevin Durant at times this season.
What to Look For
Coach Mike Woodson will once again be forced to juggle his rotation if some of his key guys can't go tonight. As Anthony joked after the Pacers game, he may even be forced to play some center, something he actually did at times last season. Andrea Bargnani's ability to stretch the floor will be important in pulling Jordan away from the basket, which will open up driving lanes for his teammates. The Clippers' perimeter defense has suffered since losing Paul; neither Darren Collison (Paul's replacement) nor Jamal Crawford are particularly strong individual or help defenders, and both are vulnerable to getting screened. With Martin and Stoudemire possibly out or limited, Jeremy Tyler and/or Cole Aldrich could see some action.