Knicks vs. Wizards 7:00 PM – Verizon Center
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
Before boarding a flight to Washington D.C., the Knicks held a practice session at Madison Square Garden Training Center that featured a lengthy 90-minute film session. The team is attempting to correct some of the issues that have plagued them in the two consecutive losses in New York. Optimism was high as the Knicks shipped out of town for the second road trip of the season. Amar’e Stoudemire seemed healthy and ready for action after his first game back from a sprained ankle and Iman Shumpert continues to work on his conditioning following his first taste of action Christmas Day. At 2-4, New York will search for the winning formula with its first back-to-back of the season on the horizon.
The Wizards are in the midst of constructing a squad that can compete for a playoff spot in the near future. 2010 No. 1 overall pick John Wall is a great place to start along with Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee. Washington drafted a versatile frontcourt player in Jan Vesely while deciding not to amnesty Rashard Lewis. In six games, the Wizards have failed to find the win column at 0-6 but have three consecutive home contests starting Friday night against the Knicks.
Last Time Out
The Knicks allowed 62 first half points and were dropped 118-110 on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. Carmelo Anthony scored 22 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter.
Dwight Howard made a living in the paint on Wednesday night with 28 points and 20 boards in a 103-85 victory over Washington. For the Wizards, Wall scored 14 points, and Nick Young added 17 in the defeat.
The Numbers Game
New York swept last season’s series for the first time since 2003-04. Knicks won six straight over Wizards – longest active streak against one team (tied with Hornets).
Match-up to Watch
Iman Shupert vs. John Wall
Shumpert and Wall may not directly match-up against each other with the Knicks rookie most likely floating between the point guard and shooting guard positions. However, it will be intriguing to see Shumpert, at 6-5 take on the lightning quick guard for the Wizards. Wall is arguably the fastest guard in the league from baseline to baseline and he is capable of putting up big numbers across the board. Shumpert is fresh off an 18-point performance against the Bobcats, a pretty remarkable achievement after dealing with a knee injury that kept him out of the lineup for 10 days. The former Georgia Tech guard displayed the shooting touch on Wednesday night by hitting 4-of-6 shots from downtown. His playmaking abilities could be what the doctor ordered as the Knicks search for a perimeter player to breakdown the opposing defense and free up Anthony and Stoudemire for open shots.
What to Look For
According to Wizards.com, a players-only meeting took place on Thursday as the team looks to snap the six-game losing streak. There is no doubt that Washington is dangerous at the moment and will certainly come out with a ton of motivation against the Knicks. After Howard had a gigantic night against the Wizards, the New York bigs will be licking their chops to attack the paint. In speaking with assistant coach Kenny Atkinson, the staff would like to get Stoudemire involved in some more pick-and-roll action and they are pleased to see the guards finding Tyson Chandler diving towards the rim for easy buckets. Washington allows 98.3 points per game and ranks second to last in scoring, leaving New York with a golden opportunity to snatch a road win on Friday night.