By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Magic | Amway Center
When: Friday | 7:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York (21-33): The Knicks stood pat at yesterday's trade deadline, opting to make a playoff push with the current roster that has shown signs of promise when fully healthy. Unfortunately for coach Mike Woodson, health remains an issue, with Iman Shumpert's sprained MCL the newest addition to New York's injury list. Shump went down in the 3rd quarter of the Knicks' win in New Orleans on Wednesday, but Tim Hardaway Jr. and J.R. Smith came off the bench to pick up the slack, combining for 35 points on 6 of 10 shooting from downtown. Then Carmelo Anthony, who scored 42 points in the game, closed the deal with 13 of the Knicks' last 15 points down the stretch.
Orlando (16-40): The Magic's slow rebuild continues as the team heads for a second straight lottery appearance. Their only deadline move was to waive Glen Davis, a sign of their commitment to developing the young core. Six of the top nine players in the rotation are under 25 years old, led by No. 2 overall pick Victor Oladipo and former first-round picks, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic. Veteran leaders Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo are having strong seasons, but the focus is clearly on the future in Orlando; they rank 17th on defense, but Jacque Vaughn's team is 27th in offensive efficiency.
The Numbers Game
Over his last 12 games, Hardaway is averaging 14.2 points and shooting 38.2 percent from three in 30.2 minutes per game.
Matchup to Watch
Pablo Prigioni vs. Victor Oladipo
The Magic are very high on their prized rookie, but his development bears watching, especially as he attempts to man the point guard position. While he possesses athleticism and agressiveness that has drawn comparisons to Russell Westbrook, he's also very raw as a distributor. In other words, he could take some cues from Pablo Prigioni, whose grasp of running an offense has been honed over time and regularly puts his teammates in better position to score. Both are tenacious defenders, and it should be a fun battle to watch when the two are matched up.
What to Look For
With Shumpert sidelined, Woodson said that Smith will take his spot in the starting lineup. That leaves Hardaway as the Knicks' first sub off the bench, in all likelihood. Amar'e Stoudemire will play tonight after sitting out Wednesday in New Orleans with knee soreness. Tyson Chandler and Jeremy Tyler have become a formidable big man duo, and should have an athletic advantage over Orlando's bigs. They'll have to keep Vucevic (10.7 boards per game) off the glass tonight.