Game 4 Preview: Knicks at Kings
The New York Knicks roll into town riding a two-game, west-coast losing streak. Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni has a bright shiny new toy in defensive specialist Tyson Chandler. While the Heat have their “big three” down in Miami, the Knicks hope the trio of Stoudemire, Anthony and Chandler are enough to give the Heat a run for their money. Young guards Toney Douglas and Landry Fields are off to a rough start, but the Knicks have very little backcourt depth, while Baron Davis (back) and rookie Iman Shumpert (knee) recover from injury.
Coach Paul Westphal let his team have it after selfish play and missed free throws cost the Sacramento Kings Thursday night against Chicago. The Kings have yet to get consistent play from franchise building blocks DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans. Per 36 minutes, Cousins is averaging 19.4 points and 15.3 rebounds, but foul trouble has limited the second-year big man to just under 27 minutes per game. Evans is shooting 14-percent from behind the arc and has yet to find a rhythm with backcourt-mate Marcus Thornton or wing John Salmons. Coach Westphal desperately needs his young team to gel as they begin an incredibly difficult stretch that includes five games over the next six nights.
Kings Starters (1-2)
- Tyreke Evans
- Marcus Thornton
- John Salmons
- DeMarcus Cousins
- Chuck Hayes
Coach Westphal tightened his rotation even further in the Kings third game of the season. Rookie Isaiah Thomas and veteran Travis Outlaw saw major reductions in minutes, as Westphal tried to give his starters some extra time to bond on the floor. Jimmer Fredette continued his quality play off the bench, scoring 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting (2-of-4 from three-point range). J.J. Hickson grabbed eight rebounds and kicked in seven points, joining Fredette and Jason Thompson as the only bench players to play double figure minutes.
Knicks Starters (1-2)
- Tony Douglas
- Landry Fields
- Carmelo Anthony
- Tyson Chandler
Barring a blow-out, Coach Mike D’Antoni has a pretty tight eight man rotation. Star power forward Amare Stoudemire will sit out tonight’s contest with a sprained left ankle, further depleting the Knicks bench. Veteran Mike Bibby and Bill Walker are providing depth at guard after rookie Iman Shumpert went down with a sprained right MCL in the first game of the season. Renaldo Balkman and Steve Novak are picking up whatever scraps are left behind the Knicks big three. No announcement yet on who will fill the void in the starting line-up left by Stoudemire’s absence.
Matchup of the Game
John Salmons vs. Carmelo Anthony: This is the reason the Kings added John Salmons in the off-season. While no one expects Salmons to stop Anthony, Coach Westphal is relying on him to slow down one of the NBA’s premiere scorers. The Kings need Salmons to make Anthony work on the defensive end as well. Salmons has a versatile offensive game that should translate well against a marginal defender in Anthony. Expect Westphal to give Travis Outlaw some minutes on Anthony as well. If that doesn’t work, expect Donté Greene and possibly a kitchen sink to get a shot as well.