Knicks @ Kings – Sleep Train Arena
When: Friday | 10:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: Through the first 29 games of the season, the Knicks have found a way to win despite injuries to key players on the roster. New York defeated Phoenix on the road on Wednesday without Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton, and Rasheed Wallace in the lineup. Anthony is day-to-day with a hyper extended left leg, Felton is out to 4-6 weeks due to a fractured right pinky, and Wallace is out with a foot injury. Meanwhile, Amar’e Stoudemire is out until at least New Year’s and Iman Shumpert continues to rehab in search of a return in the near future. New York has managed a 21-8 record, which is just a half game behind the Miami Heat for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Sacramento: The Kings are hoping their young talent begins to develop into a cohesive unit that eventually makes a run to the postseason again. After a 22-44 record last season, Sacramento drafted Thomas Robinson out of the University of Kansas to add depth to a frontcourt featuring DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings also added Aaron Brooks and James Johnson this offseason. So far the 2012-13 campaign has been a bit rocky as Tyreke Evans deals with a knee injury and Cousins was suspended for a game for unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team. Sacramento was hoping Evans and Cousins would form a dynamic inside-out tandem but the two players have not shared significant court time this season. At 9-19, the Kings have two more games in Sacramento before jumping on the road for a four-game road trip against Eastern Conference opponents.
Last Time Out
New York: J.R. Smith delivered another spectacular game-winner at the buzzer to lift the Knicks to a 99-97 on Wednesday.
Sacramento: The Kings suffered a 109-91 loss to the Blazers on Wednesday night.
The Numbers Game
The Knicks are 3-2 this season in games played without Anthony in the lineup.
Match-up to Watch
Knicks Backcourt vs. Kings Backcourt
From all reports it sounds like Evans will not return to Sacramento’s lineup until Sunday night. Without Evans, the Kings will feature Aaron Brooks and Marcus Thornton in the backcourt while bringing Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette off the bench. Brooks and Thomas are lighting quick guards that can fill up the box score in a hurry. Thomas and Fredette have the potential to damage the Knicks backcourt as well with their shooting range. On the opposite side, Kidd, Prigioni, White, and Smith should generate enough firepower to match the Kings from an offensive standpoint.
What to Look For
Despite the Knicks injury woes, the team has a great opportunity to finish the road trip 2-1 and ride the momentum back to New York with some time to practice and recover before the next contest. Sacramento ranks 24th in rebounding and allows 101.9 points per game, which should lead to a big performance from Tyson Chandler and New York’s frontline. Cousins’ status for this game is still unclear after he abruptly left a media session on Thursday when reporters began to question his body language and thoughts on the suspension.