Saturday, January 28, 2012

Knicks at Houston - Preview

Tune in at 8 PM tonight to see the Knicks take on the Houston Rockets. Coming off of a loss against the Miami Heat last night, the Knicks take on another formidable foe in the red hot Rockets. Houston, at 11-8, has won eight of their last nine since they started 3-7. Though Kevin Martin is may be out for the game (he missed the last one), the Rockets still present plenty of challenges.

The Knicks meanwhile have plenty of challenges of their own, as they've now lost eight of their last nine. New York will be without Carmelo Anthony again, so it will be up to the rest of the team, mainly Amar'e Stoudemire, to try and pick up the scoring load better than they did against the Heat last night.

Jump for some notes!

Here's what I'll be looking for tonight:

  • The diminutive, but rugged starting point guard for the Rockets has been on a tear this season. He's averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, assists and steals per game this season at 15.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 8.5 apg, and 2.1 spg, and recently posted a triple double against Minnesota. Who will Mike D'Antoni send to guard him? Toney Douglas started at PG last night, but will he stay there or will Iman Shumpert resume his role as the starting PG. Could be an interesting matchup.
  • I mentioned in the recap of the Heat game that Amar'e failed to take on the leader and scoring role with Melo out of the lineup. However, the Heat often sent double teams at Amar'e when he got the ball. Will the Rockets employ the same strategy? If not, Stoudemire has to absolutely take control and return to superstar mode that we saw last season.
  • When Shump returned to the lineup in early January, he provided a huge spark to the Knicks with his ability to get into the paint, occasionally create looks for others, and harrass his opponents on D. Lately though, Shump hasn't been playing well. His shot has been off, he's been unable to finish at the rim, and his defense seems rather pedestrian compared to what we're used to seeing from him. It's quite possible that he's hit a wall with the amount of minutes he's been playing in such a hurried schedule. But if he could return to form, it would very much help the Knicks.
  • Bill Walker managed to provide 21 points off the bench last night, by knocking down seven 3-pointers. I've critized Bully quite a bit on this site because I think he makes some idiotic mistakes and I don't think his head is in the game very often, but you can't deny his impact when he's focused. I don't expect a miraculous bombing barrage like last night, but some offense and tough defense would be quite appreciated.
Houston Rockets Scouting Report

 - Goran Dragic, the energetic backup PG for the Rockets, has been disappointed with his lack of playing time recently. In order to fool head coach Kevin McHale, Goran has rearranged the letters of his name and is now assuming a new identity under the name Dragon Craig.

 - Backup forwards Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris have an exclusive club for players whose first and last names begin with the same letters. This offseason, they tried desperately to recruit Brandon Bass and Jonas Jerebko to the Rokcets, but to no avail. Patrick still isn't over the loss of his former teammate Jared Jeffries.

 - Hasheem Thabeet, a young, talented center with much development to do, has started wearing on the nerves of his teammates and other Rockets employees by nicknaming himself "Hasheem the Dream". He also gives out pregame milkshakes to each of his teammates, which he calls "Hasheem Shakes".

Let's all prepare ourselves for the Rockets! The Knicks are really going to need a good effort to steal this one, but I think the motivation might be there. If not, this game against a confident, hot team couldn't come at a worse time for the Knicks. We'll see how it goes. Go Knicks!

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