James Harden and the Houston Rockets prepare for launch as they visit an ailing New York Knicks amid a six-game skid.
After getting their teeth kicked in on MLK Day by the Thunder, the Knicks are rewarded with a visit from James Harden. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Harden has reached Super Saiyan God-level of scoring, averaging 42.3 points per game over his last 20 contests. That is what a struggling Knicks defense welcomes on Wednesday night. Be on red alert for Harden’s MSG masterpiece tonight.
David Fizdale’s bunch is in dire need of a confidence boost. The offense continues to plummet. New York (10-35) managed to only score 109 points on a Thunder defense that was in the midst of a serious slump. The Rockets (26-20) present an enticing matchup, as their best defense is their offense. If the Knicks were to ever have a bounce back offensive game, tonight’s the night.
Here’s what else to look out for during tonight’s matchup.
Kanter’s Swan Song
Enes Kanter’s days as a Knick are officially numbered. Fizdale broke the news to Kanter that he will be the third string center moving forward. The development of Luke Kornet and Mitchell Robinson has taken precedence.
Monday was the first time Kanter publicly acknowledged his time in the city is coming to a close. For now he remains a Knick, and thanks to a sprained ankle, Kornet will be out for the foreseeable future. However, due to a serendipitous, for Enes, injury befallen Kornet, Kanter will start in the second-year center’s place against Houston. That gives Kanter one final run as a Knick, as well as a chance to show playoff teams what he can bring to the table.
Point Guard Saga Continues
Emmanuel Mudiay remains the starting point guard, for now at least. Once again, the starters came out sluggish, falling behind early in a game the Knicks lost wire to wire. Obviously Mudiay is not the sole reason behind the struggles, but even when his shot is falling like it was on Monday, is the team doing any better?
The fact remains that Mudiay is not a part of this team’s future. He is more or less the player he was when the Knicks traded for him last year, with boosted confidence. On the other hand, Frank Ntilikina is someone on whom the Knicks used a lottery pick; how about letting him play to see what you have?
Fizdale has been hasty with Frank’s hook, deservedly so earlier in the season. But right now, Ntilikina is playing well enough to garner more minutes—which he did on Monday—and get another shot at starting.
Spotlight: Enes Kanter
Kanter has to make the most of the minutes he gets. He has the potential for another 20-20 game tonight against a depleted Rockets defense. With Clint Capela sidelined, Houston’s frontcourt depth is barren. The only thing in Kanter’s way tonight is an over-the-hill Nene and rusty Kenneth Faried, who recently signed with Houston after Brooklyn waived the power forward.
A strong showing could be beneficial to all parties involved. Kanter’s gains are obvious, but the front office can use the good tape to send to teams with the deadline nearing.