(From HighTops. -- TZ)
In New York’s six-game losing streak, they had had an average deficit of 12 points before losing to Denver 120-118 last night. In that game, Danilo Gallinari, Amar'e Stoudemire, Wilson Chandler and Landry Fields all scored at least 21 points and Raymond Felton had 19. Fields contributed 17 rebounds; New York was 9-31 from three-point range for 29%. What cost them the game was 33 fouls, which sent Denver to the free throw line where they were 31-47 and outscored New York by eight.
As Paul Westphal said in JJ’s post practice report, "The Knicks are one of the teams that more than anybody that spread the floor and look to make threes and, widen you out. A lot of their success depends on whether their threes are going down or not." They were averaging almost 25 attempts per game before last night, but they were only shooting 32%. Of the six players who have taken double-digit attempts this season, only Felton (16-34 for .372) and Fields (8-22 for .362) were shooting over 31% from beyond the arc. So the main challenge to shutting them down is going to fall onto Beno Udrih and Tyreke Evans.
The problem is that Fields is 6-7 and extremely athletic and can finishes way above the basket or hit the three-point shot, so he would be an impossible cover for Beno. And, while Felton is only 6-foot and not the greatest leaper, he’s so quick that he gets to the rim and finishes at a 60% clip about four times a game. He is excellent running the pick-and-roll, which is scary considering he has Amar'e on his team. So it seems that if Westphal continues to start Tyreke and Beno in the backcourt, Beno is going to be a liability on defense wherever we play him.
Speaking of Amar’e, this is what he had to say recently: "I don't understand why we're not playing with the urgency. I don't understand that ... It's not something I'm used to." I guess if I were averaging 20pts/8rebs/2asts/1stl/1.7blks and my team had lost six in a row I’d be asking this myself. Did I mention that he’s shooting 45.7% field, 57.1% from 3’s, and 75.7% from the FT line?
The other two starters are Gallinari and rookie center Timofey Mozgov from Russia. As a starter Mozgov is only averaging 14 mpg with 3.5pts/2.5 rebounds. Gallinari, the 6-10 forward out of Italy, has seen his shooting numbers fall off this season, but he is a career 38% shooter from long-range and has the length to finish in the paint, although he seldom ventures there (2 FGAs per game).
Chandler, the 6-8 guard-forward leads the bench, and is 2nd in scoring, with 17 ppg on almost 16 shots per game in 31 minutes, and he's second in rebounds with 6.6. He’s not afraid to put up the three-point shot, although he should be because he’s only shooting 29% from that range. But like Fields, he’s very athletic and does most of his damage in close, especially at the rim where he shoots 70%. Toney Douglas, the point guard from Florida State, like Gallinari, is having a tough shooting year. After shooting 46% field and 39% from three last season, he’s only shooting 42% and 29% this season. So, until his shot returns, he’s going to get his minutes based on his outstanding defense with two steals a game. With his excellent ball-handling, defense and scoring ability, this is one young player that the Kings could really use. (Note to GP: NY could use a mobile center, how about JT & Cisco for Curry & Douglas?)
Ronny Turiaf, who missed the Minnesota and Houston games with a sprained knee, returned for the Denver game. But Turiaf is only having a so-so year with 6pts and 3.5 rebounds in 24 mpg. Last night wasn’t any better. He fouled out in 12-1/2 minutes with 0 pts and only 2 rebounds. The other disappointment for the Knicks has to be Anthony Randolph, who in 7 games is only averaging 12 mpg, and is averaging only 2.5pts and 4 rebs. He only scored 4 pts and 1 rebound in 6-1/2 minutes last night.
If the bad shooting for both teams continues, this could be an ugly game. We could see a lot of rebounds and a lot of running back and forth with nothing to show. The Knicks have had only two games with fewer than 100 possessions, and the Kings have only had two games over 97 with their last two under 88. So, if the Kings control the boards they should win this one at home. But, as PW said, if NY hits their outside shots, the Kings could be in for another rough night.