|2010/2011 NBA Regular Season|
|November 20th, 2010, 7:30 PM|
|FSN West, KFWB 980 AM
The Back Story:
- First meeting of the season. The Knicks swept both games last season.
The Big Picture:
Well, it's really, really getting tough now. The worst record in the NBA, an eight game losing streak, and four straight losses against some of the bottom feeders of the league. (If that sounds familiar, it's because it's basically the same opening I used before the last game. If they lose again tonight, I can use it again for Monday's game.) Actually, until the Indiana game, at least they had been relatively fun to watch. But there was nothing redeemable about the team on Thursday. The second half was particularly unwatchable - Brian Cook was the team's leading scorer after intermission, and that should pretty much never happen. The starters scored a total of 16 points after halftime, half of those by Al-Farouq Aminu. It's not just that they couldn't shoot - they looked like they had no idea what they were doing, like they had never played together. It was so bad, there's really no point in dwelling on it. Hopefully the group will be glad to be back in Staples Center and will at least play with energy. That's the one thing they were consistently able to do until Indianapolis.
The Knicks seem a little streaky. The opened the season 3-2, then they lost six straight, and now they've won two straight, on the road no less. Given the way New York has been scoring and the way the Clippers have been giving up points, there's really no telling how many points the Knicks could score in this one. They've put up 118, 113 and 125 in their last three, while the Clippers have allowed over 100 in 8 straight, all losses not surprisingly. So it's a good bet that Lawler's Law will come into effect tonight. The New York roster is unrecognizable from last year's team, which is probably a good thing. They cleared the decks in order to pursue multiple marquee free agents, and though they were spurned by the big three, they did get Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton. They only have four players that were on the roster at this time last season, and one of those is Eddy Curry, so make that three. When you consider the turnover, they're doing quite well at 5-8 so far, though most of their wins have come against some league lightweights. Surprisingly, four of their five wins this season have come on the road. Stoudemire is leading them in scoring at 22 per game, but three others are averaging 15 or better. They play at the second highest pace in the league.
- Griffin and Stoudemire. It's inevitable that people will compare Blake Griffin to other players. One that we've heard a lot is Karl Malone, but as I've said before, that one doesn't work for me at all. I like a recent comparison to Shawn Kemp, but the one I've used most often is Amare Stoudemire. I like to think of Griffin as Amare with a work ethic. They both have unlikely athleticism for their size and get their points mostly by being quicker than the bigs playing opposite them. It's worth noting that Stoudemire had no jump shot to speak of when he first got to the NBA, but has developed into a reliable shooter from 18 feet and in. If Griffin can do the same, he could be a scorer on Stoudemire's level.
- More Griffin and Stoudemire. Griffin's two worst games of the season have come in the last three games. Each one was against a relatively unknown opponent - Kris Humphries of the Nets and Josh McRoberts of the Pacers. On the other hand he played well against better known players like Tayshaun Prince and Kevin Love. Stoudemire's never much been known for his defense, nor have Mike D'Antoni teams. Hopefully Griffin can have a big game against a big name.
- Check the DVR. Note again that this game is on FSN West, not Prime Ticket. Make sure that you're DVR is set to record it if you're not going to be home watching Saturday night (like you have something better to do Saturday night).
- Bring an umbrella. Yes, it supposed to rain this weekend, but moreover it's going to rain threes in Staples. The Knicks take over 24 threes per game, among the league leaders in three point attempts. The Clippers allow their opponents to shoot 44% from beyond the arc, by far the highest mark in the league. They've allowed five of their last six opponents to make at least 50%, and allowed the Pacers to make 14 threes on Thursday. If the Clippers don't tighten up their perimeter defense, this game could get out of hand quickly. How much do the Knicks like to take threes? Even Stoudemire is taking them - he's 5 for 9 on the season through 13 games. Five three pointers is his previous career high for a season. Four Knicks average at least 4 three point attempts per game.
- Gallinari heating up. Danilo Gallinari, taken one pick ahead of Eric Gordon in the 2008 draft, has struggled to make shots this season. He's shooting 38% overall, and 33% from deep (and half of his attempts on the season are threes, so stay close to him Farouq). However, he's shown signs of turning it around on this road trip, having scored over 20 in his last three games, and making a decent percentage in the last two. He's also getting to the line a lot - averaging almost 10 free throws per game in his last six. However, he doesn't do a lot else - last night in Oakland he had zero rebounds and one assist in 33 minutes.
- More on Stoudemire. It was widely assumed that Amare Stoudemire would miss Steve Nash a lot, and so far the data suggets that he probably is, at least a little. He's still scoring - but not as much as he did last season in Phoenix, despite playing at a faster pace. More telling is that his field goal percentage is near a career low, which probably indicates that he's not getting as many really easy scores from Nash assists.
- Landry Fields. Rookie Landry Fields, a second round draft pick out of Stanford and Los Alamitos High, not only made the Knicks roster, but is starting for them. He's averaging 11 points and 7 rebounds, while shooting over 58% from the field. Frankly, his numbers stack up with most any other rookie in the league. In fact, among rookies who've played at least 200 minutes, he's got the third best PER in the league, after John Wall and Blake Griffin. By the way, Al-Farouq Aminu is fourth on that PER list. Dave Berri argues that Fields has been the most productive rookie this season, not surprisingly basing the argument on his Wins Produced metric, which values efficient scoring very highly.
- Speaking of rookies. That list is pretty interesting. Of the nine rookies who have played more than 200 minutes this season, three of them are Clippers. It's also worth noting that they were drafted 1 (Griffin in 2009), 1 (Wall in 2010), 2 (Turner), 3 (Favors), 4 (Johnson), 5 (Cousins), 8 (Aminu), 18 (Bledsoe) and 39 (Fields). So in terms of players getting burn as rookies, the real surprises are all in this game. Only two rookies have played over 400 minutes so far, and they're both on the Clippers. Of course, all of this playing time for rookies goes a long way towards explaining the Clippers league worst record.
- Gordon. The Clippers desperately need Eric Gordon to play well in order to have a chance. With so little experience in the lineup, it falls disproportionately on Gordon to make things happen, and almost exclusively on him in pressure situations. He had a bad game in Indiana (he has yet to have a good game in his hometown as a pro); hopefully he'll bounce back in this one. The Pacers bothered Gordon by putting Granger on him for long stretches, and EJ struggled to deal with his size. Fields is 6'7", and it will be interesting to see how he defends Gordon tonight.
- Knicks on a back to back. In perhaps the Clippers first case of scheduling good fortune so far this season, the Clippers are catching the Knicks on the second game of a back to back. They won in Oakland last night, so we'll see how much energy they have tonight. Against the Clippers, bad teams tend to have plenty of energy as they know it's a chance to get a win.
- Superstar for one game: Landry Fields. Why not? Local kid, playing in front of his family. Just because it doesn't work for Eric Gordon doesn't mean it won't work for other guys.
Oh, fear not in a world like this,
And thou shalt know erelong,
Know how sublime a thing it is
To suffer and be strong.
- Get the Knicks perspective at Posting and Toasting.