Knicks vs. Nuggets 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
The Knicks are searching for answers during the current five-game losing skid. Carmelo Anthony continues to score in bunches but the team is looking for offensive cohesion to balance the progress they have made on the defensive side of the court. Today’s contest against Denver is the last chance for New York to provide a home win for the fans as the team will not return to the Garden until January 31 after a four-game road trip.
The Nuggets successfully retained the services of their anchor in the paint by re-signing Nene prior to the start of the 2011-12 season. After Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, and Wilson Chandler bolted for China during the lockout, Denver acquired Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer to build some depth on the bench. In a return to trip to the Mile High City, Andre Miller was also added to go along with draft picks Jordan Hamilton and Kenneth Faried. The Nuggets are off to an 11-5 start to the season behind this solid second unit crew and a talented group of starters that includes former Knicks small forward Danilo Gallinari. In the midst of a grueling five-game road trip, Denver might miss its big man as Nene attempts to recover from a lingering left heel straight. Nene sat out of Friday night’s contest against the Wizards and his status is up in the air for the showdown against New York.
Last Time Out
Last night, the Knicks suffered a 100-86 loss despite Anthony’s 35 points. The Bucks held New York to only 16 third quarter points and stretched their lead to drop the Knicks to 6-9 on the season.
Al Harrington jumped off the bench for the Nuggets to score 29 points and lead his team to a 108-104 road win in Washington.
The Numbers Game
The Knicks rank second in the league in steals with 10.1 per game. Rookie Iman Shumpert is the main contributor by averaging 2.6 per outing.
Match-up to Watch
Carmelo Anthony vs. Danilo Gallinari
The matchup between Anthony and Gallinari will garner the bulk of the attention from the fans and the media in tonight’s game. For the first time since the blockbuster trade last year, Gallinari will play at the Garden in a Nuggets uniform and Anthony will face his former team. From a pure basketball standpoint, the matchup is intriguing due to Gallinari’s continued improvement as Denver’s second leading scorer at the small forward position. Gallinari runs the court with ease, shoots from deep, and is surprisingly quick off the bounce. This year, the Italian has increased his percentage from the floor and trips to the charity strip. For New York, Anthony is finding a way to light up the score board regardless of a nagging left wrist injury. Anthony is arguably the most prolific offensive weapon in the league and his scoring, ball distribution, and defense on Gallinari will be a huge key in the Saturday showdown.
What to Look For
The Nuggets are a supremely confident team, riding a current three-game winning streak and they have captured victories in five of their last six games. Head coach Mike D’Antoni explained to the media the importance of correcting the offensive issues in order to snap the losing skid. However, the Knicks will need a top notch defensive performance to stop the league’s No.2 ranked team in points per game and the top assist squad in the NBA. Denver moves the ball and distributes the scoring load on its balanced roster. Behind speedy point guard Ty Lawson, the Nuggets will jump out in transition with any daylight, which will force New York to retreat quickly on the defensive side of the floor. If the Knicks can grab a sizable lead early and dictate the pace, they have a great shot at snatching a Saturday night victory.