By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Pelicans | Smoothie King Center
When: Wednesday | 8:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York (20-33): The Knicks emerged from the All-Star break determined to make a playoff push, and after a slow start last night in Memphis, that was evident in how they competed. After five days off, they took a half to get back in sync, but the effort was there and the execution caught up during a second-half rally. The Grizzlies did a good job bothering Carmelo Anthony (22 points on 22 shots), but his teammates stepped up to erase a 13-point halftime deficit by the beginning of the 4th quarter. Mike Woodson rode Tim Hardaway Jr. (14 of his 23 points came in the 4th quarter) and Pablo Prigioni (10 assists) down the stretch, and they helped lead a furious comeback that just fell short in the final minutes.
New Orleans (23-29): The face of the Pelicans, former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis, deservedly made his first All-Star team, but his success has been one of a few bright spots this season. New Orleans has two wings making big money (Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans), and neither have justified their contracts to this point. They've also been hit hard by injuries, with Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith all sidelined for extended time. Davis has emerged as one of the game's elite big men, but barring a significant move by tomorrow's trade deadline, the Pelicans could miss out on the playoffs for the third straight year.
The Numbers Game
After falling behind by 13 by halftime, the Knicks outscored the Grizzlies, 56-49, in the second half. They also outrebounded the physical Mempis front court, 39-38.
Matchup to Watch
Tyson Chandler vs. Anthony Davis
Chandler was limited to 26 minutes by foul trouble in Memphis, but he played an important role in the Knicks' comeback in the 3rd quarter. He'll have his hands full with Davis, whose versatility sets him apart from nearly every other superstar in the NBA. He has guard skills, thanks to a late growth spurt that came transformed him from a 6-3 high school junior into a blue chip prospect, and instincts on both ends of the floor that have drawn comparisons to Tim Duncan.
What to Look For
The Knicks started slow in Memphis, but they really heated up in the second half by pressuring on defense and running when possible. Prigioni was a big part of that. Not only was he active as a playmaker, but he didn't hesitate to look for his shot when open. Woodson's lineup decisions down the stretch could be indicative of how he'll manage tonight, with Prigioni and Hardaway on the floor to generate offense and take pressure off Anthony. Amar'e Stoudemire made some athletic plays in the 3rd quarter and will be counted on to contribute off the bench on the second night of a back-to-back.