New Orleans Hornets vs. New York Knicks: Preview, Analysis and Predictions
New York won the first game between the two 102-80, but New Orleans was without Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon for that game, and New York was still the hot-shooting dynamo that they were at the beginning of the season.
The Knicks have now lost three games in a row to Eastern Conference playoff teams, while the Hornets seem to be figuring things out after four straight wins, including victories over the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets.
Time: Noon ET
TV: NBA League Pass
Records: New York Knicks (23-13), New Orleans Hornets (11-25)
Betting Line: New York -7
Injury Report: Marcus Camby, Out (Foot); Raymond Felton, Out (Right Pinky); Iman Shumpert, Out (Knee); Rasheed Wallace, Out (Foot)
Key Storyline: Three-Point Stagnation
Throughout the 2-4 stretch that has been January for the New York Knicks, they're shooting just 32.3 percent from the three-point line. Compare that to a 37 percent clip from beyond the arc in December, and a season spent at over 38 percent from the three-point line, and that's a huge difference.
Not only are the Knicks missing too many three-pointers, but they're also forcing the issue a lot more lately, shooting over 23 long balls a game over the course of the first six games of 2013, nearly two more per game than they averaged throughout December.
In the end, the Knicks were always going to fall back to Earth in the three-point shooting game; otherwise, they would have ended up with one of the best three-point shooting teams in the history of the NBA.
Volatile three-point shooters like J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony have started to fall back, leading to a bit of a long-ball stagnation.
Key Matchup: Anthony Davis vs. Tyson Chandler
While Eric Gordon will probably do a lot more on-ball work than Anthony Davis, he doesn't have as formidable a matchup as Davis does in Tyson Chandler.
Davis continues to see his minutes limited, as the Hornets do their best to protect their investment, which has caused him to be a bit erratic in the past few weeks.
He's showing that athleticism and speed alone will allow him to prove himself a formidable defender, while admittedly having a letdown from time to time.
He's doing a better job of scoring efficiently as of late, with his field-goal percentage steadily creeping up, and it will be interesting to see how he matches up with one of the league's most formidable big men.
X-Factors: Eric Gordon, J.R. Smith
It seems a bit odd to list Eric Gordon as an X-factor, as he's almost certainly going to shoot the ball 15-20 times in this one, but it's still hard to predict what he does.
Gordon may be shooting just 33 percent over his first six games of the season, but it's undeniable that he's had a positive impact on the Hornets offense.
He's been able to take over as a primary ball-handler at times and even show off a bit of defense here and there.
As for the Knicks, J.R. Smith is always going to be their X-factor.
Even if he has turned a page in his career to the point where he's able to give an effort on each and every play, the outcome is going to be in question every time he takes a shot.
In recent history with Smith, it seems as if the more high-pressure the situation, the more off-balance, the better.
New York has been having a rough time lately, sure. But they're slowly working their way back together after adding in Amar'e Stoudemire.
While they have had a rough time shooting three-pointers this month, the past two games have actually been promising, as they shot over 42 percent in consecutive games.
Take that, pair it with New Orleans' poor perimeter defense (teams shoot over 36 percent for three against them), and you've got yourself a recipe for a Knicks win.
Plus, the Knicks are 6-0 on Sundays; New Orleans is 0-2. It may seem meaningless, but it's something.
New York Knicks 104, New Orleans Hornets 98
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