Knicks @ Wizards 7:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
This year’s Knicks squad is learning to deal with extreme adversity with their All-Star players missing significant game action. Amar’e Stoudemire left the team for a personal matter and Carmelo Anthony suffered a right groin strain in Monday’s game against the Jazz. Anthony has battled injuries all season to his thumb, wrist, and ankle. The latest setback will keep Anthony sidelined for 1-2 weeks, which leaves New York without its leading scorer in the lineup. Fortunately for the Knicks, Jeremy Lin has flourished in the previous two games, leading the team to two straight victories and improving its overall record to 10-15. New York plays its next three of four games on the road with a pivotal Friday night matchup on the horizon against the Lakers at Madison Square Garden.
After a 2-15 start to the 2011-12 season, the Wizards decided to fire head coach Flip Saunders on January 24. Despite the young talent on the roster, Saunders could not jumpstart his squad in the middle of a major rebuilding effort. Under Randy Wittman, Washington has recorded a 3-5 record with two of those victories against the 3-21 Charlotte Bobcats. At the moment Washington is fairly healthy aside from the lack of frontcourt depth as Ronny Turiaf and Andray Blatche are not expected back in the lineup until mid to late February. Rashard Lewis missed Monday’s game due to soreness in his left knee and is listed as day-to-day. The Wizards are enjoying a current four-game homestand before a long six-game road trip that starts on Sunday.
Last Time Out
Lin led the way with 28 points and eight assists in a 99-88 victory over Utah on Monday night. The Knicks outscored the road squad 24-15 in the final stanza.
John Wall had a spectacular 31-point night while the Wizards edged the Raptors 111-108 on Monday.
The Numbers Game
Check out this stat from ESPN.com’s Will Cohen, “He’s [Lin] only the third player this season to play the entire second, third and fourth quarters of a game, joining Dwight Howard and Kevin Martin. Lin scored more points and was the only one of the three with a positive plus/minus in htat game.
Match-up to Watch
Jeremy Lin vs. John Wall
While most fans have focused on Lin’s scoring outbursts over the last two games, Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni has applauded his defensive abilities. Lin will face one of the fastest point guards in the entire league on Wednesday night. Wall was effective against New York in the first meeting, registering 22 points, nine assists, five rebounds, and one steal. Lin will have to find a way to stay in front of the lighting quick Wall and make him work on the opposite side of the floor.
What to Look For
Lin-sanity. The former D-leaguer might be the top trending topic not only in New York but across NBA Nation. He has provided some much-needed momentum for the Knicks as they attempt to string together victories before the upcoming All-Star break. While examining his game, one can understand why Lin is having such an immense impact on the outcomes. At 6-3 and 200 pounds, Lin is strong when utilizing the pick-and-roll as a vehicle to get to the rim. He is finishing around the bucket and finding teammates in open spaces, which is necessary in D’Antoni’s open floor system. The Wizards only rank 27th in points allowed per game, leading the door wide open for another solid offensive game for the Knicks. The pressure is not entirely on Lin to carry the load. Tyson Chandler’s points in the paint and rebounding will be key along with scoring assistance from Landry Fields, Iman Shumpert, and Steve Novak off the bench. D’Antoni expects to utilize Bill Walker and Shumpert at small forward to fill Anthony’s absence at that position.