Last season the Knicks went 0-2 against the Houston Rockets. The first loss, a 104-98 loss at Madison Square Garden resulted in the infamous “I’m sick of losing” Amar’e Stoudemire post game and helped turn the Knicks season around. Tonight the Knicks, having lost 8 of 9, look to turn their season around against the Rockets.
Here’s what to watch for:
- The Knicks bench vs the Houston bench. While the Knicks have a weak and mostly ineffective bench, the Rockets bench is one of the deepest and most talented in the league. Chase Budinger, Goran Dragic, Courtney Lee, Patrick Patterson, Terrence Williams, Jonny Flynn and ex-Knick Jordan Hill give the Rockets bench a huge advantage over the Knicks. In an attempt to try and even the bench scoring, Mike D’Antoni has decided that Billy Walker will start and Iman Shumpert will come off the bench tonight. Shumpert is better suited off the bench in that he will give the Knicks some much needed scoring. In order for the Knicks to succeed tonight, their bench will have to shoot well and put some points in. This is a winnable game for the Knicks but that will change if the Rockets 2nd unit grossly outscores the Knicks tonight.
- Is this the night Amar’e Stoudemire gets going? I seem to write about this before every game but with Melo out it is imperative that Amar’e dominates offensively tonight. In last season’s match ups with Houston, Chuck Hayes was able to get underneath Stoudemire and throw off his offensive game. Houston no longer has Hayes on their roster and does not boast another post defender that historically gives Stoudemire problems. Luis Scola is a good player but he plays a bit soft. Ditto for Samuel Dalembert. If Amar’e really is focused and aggressive tonight, he can dominate against Houston’s front court.
- If the Knicks are trailing in the 4th, will they go to “Toney Douglas” offense? Whenever the Knicks trail in the 4th, they revert to this wildly ineffective Toney Douglas high pick and roll offense that either results in 3’s banging off the side of the backboard or horrid turnovers. I truly hope that the Knicks will get their damn max-salary player the ball in the 4th quarter instead of putting the ball in the hands of a rattled shooting guard from Florida State. In the heat of the crucible, Douglas’ head begins to spin and the game moves far too quickly for the 3rd year guard.
- Landry Fields > Rockets shooting guards. With Kevin Martin out (yes I said Wade was out yesterday and he ended up playing but Martin WILL be out) with plantar fasciitis, Fields should have his 6th consecutive double digit scoring game. Last night, Fields knocked down a couple 3 pointers which was a great sign given that he has been horrible from beyond the arc (22.9%) this season. Tonight, against either Chase Budinger or Courtney Lee, Fields should have an advantage. Both players are good players but I believe Fields is more athletic and should get to the rim tonight.
- The desperate Knicks will be in dire straits tonight against a deep and athletic team. A loss will drop them to a horrid 7-13 on the season. Look on the bright side Knick fans, at least this guy doesn’t play for Houston anymore: