After losing their last four games, the New York Knicks are looking to come back on what is looking to be a woeful road trip against a New Orleans Pelicans team that has won three out of their last four.
The Knicks’ woes away from the Garden have been well-publicized. They’ve garnered more than two thirds of their wins at home, while recently losing to the Bulls and Spurs on the current road trip. Currently sitting at 17-18, good for ninth in the Eastern Conference, the team is in need of a momentum kickstarter.
The Pelicans are in the second game of a back-to-back, having given up 128 points in a loss to the Dallas Mavericks, wherein Mavs rookie Dennis Smith Jr. recorded his first NBA triple-double.
The Knicks head into this game with various key factors:
Key matchup: Kristaps Porzingis against Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins
For the better part of a month, Porzingis has been struggling with consistency in his shot, and playing both Davis and Cousins will likely not bode will for the Latvian big man. KP will have plenty of difficulty finding good shots to take against the Pelicans’ All-Star tandem up front.
Momentum for Ntilikina
Against French compatriot Tony Parker’s Spurs, Ntilikina was able to put up one of his best performances of the season, posting nine points, 11 assists, three rebounds, and three steals, showing glimpses of the talent the Knicks believe he had when he was drafted. Ntilikina will be facing Jrue Holiday when the Knicks play the Pelicans, in what is sure to be fun matchup between the two guards.
Knicks bench outpacing starters
Against the Spurs two nights ago, the Knicks bench was able to post a little less than half the teams points, contributing 52 of the 107 points the team scored on the night. The strong bench play from Doug McDermott, Michael Beasley, Kyle O’Quinn, Ron Baker, and the aforementioned Ntilikina has led the Knicks to having a reliable second unit. If they want to pressure the New Orleans Pelicans, they will need strong contributions from the bench in order to expose the Pelicans’ depth (or lack there of).
This is simple, the Knicks do not shoot threes, and maybe they can make up for it at home, but on the road it is their Achilles’ heel. Without taking advantage of the long-ball, the Knicks’ struggles on the road have piled up, sequestering leads like in Chicago and keeping New York from shutting down opponents when they have the chance.
The Knicks and the Pelicans will face off at 7 p.m. EST at the Smoothie King Center with the Knicks looking to get back to .500 and the Pelicans aiming to regain their winning ways.