Knicks vs. Nets 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
Behind an unsuspecting hero, the Knicks salvaged the three-games-in-three-nights set by toppling the Nets on Saturday night. Reserve point guard Jeremy Lin came to the rescue and lifted New York to a much needed win as it improved to 9-15 on the season and in striking distance of the Milwaukee Bucks for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Knicks received a day off for Super Bowl Sunday before returning to Madison Square Garden to host the Jazz.
For the first time in 23 years, the Jazz featured a new head coach on the sidelines to start the season. While it’s a bit odd to see Tyrone Corbin leading a new-look Utah squad without Jerry Sloan or a traditional point guard – power forward, pick-and-roll combo, the team is marching forward to a surprising start to the 2011-12 campaign. At 13-9 and fifth in the latest Western Conference standings, the Jazz are powered by extreme depth in the frontcourt and an offense that ranks in the top ten in points per game. Utah faces a heavy travel schedule with nine of its next 12 games on the road, starting in New York tonight against the Knicks.
Last Time Out
Lin’s productive night ignited the hometown team on Saturday as the Knicks defeated the Nets 99-92. Tyson Chandler also played a major role in the victory by scoring 17 points and grabbing nine boards.
Al Jefferson led the Jazz to a 96-87 over the Lakers on Saturday. Utah won the battle on the boards and recorded 12 more points in the paint to secure an important win past its Western Conference foe.
The Numbers Game
In his last five contests against Utah, Carmelo Anthony is averaging 31 points per game and shooting 51.5 percent from the floor.
Match-up to Watch
Tyson Chandler vs. Al Jefferson
Big Al Jefferson is one of the most underrated post players in the league with his ability to score buckets below the rim. Utah’s big man is a traditional center that works on the blocks and utilizes an array of pump fakes to create space for open shots in the paint. Chandler’s defensive presence should limit Jefferson’s overall impact on the game if he can stay away from foul trouble for the majority of the contest. In the Jazz wins, Jefferson has registered 50.6 percent shooting from the floor in contrast to his 44.3 percent in their losses.
What to Look For
Will The Lin Show return? The Knicks may not need another 25-point performance from Lin off the bench but the team will rely on his penetration in the lane and playmaking abilities. Lin was dynamic on Saturday with his drives off the bounce and buckets in traffic. If he is able to duplicate that type of effort, Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire will not feel the pressure to score in isolation. Utah allows 96.8 points per game, opening the door for the Knicks offense to enjoy a big night as seen in the last meeting when New York tallied 131 points.