Preview: Keys to Beat Knicks, Bulls
Preview: Keys to Beat Knicks, Bulls

By Jace Darling, bobcats.com

January 24, 2014

KEY MATCHUP vs. KNICKS : Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs Carmelo Anthony

Although Michael Kidd-Gilchrist lost 19 games this season to a non-displaced fracture in his left hand, he has played in each of the three games that the Bobcats have faced the New York Knicks already this season. This will be the last of four meetings between the Knicks and Bobcats. Charlotte leads the season series, 2-1, with Charlotte winning the last game between the two teams, 108-98 on Jan.14, at Time Warner Cable Arena. In the three previous games, MKG has averaged 12.7 points and 7.7 rebounds while keeping Carmelo Anthony to 26.7 points, 6.3 boards, and 3.7 assists which is on par with his season averages. Anthony sits third in the NBA in scoring, posting 26.1 points and is 20th in rebounding at 9.0 rebounds. The Knicks are 11-2 when Anthony posts four-or-more assists in a game. Anthony posted team highs with 32 points and two assists over 44 minutes in a Nov. 5 loss versus Charlotte. This was Anthony’s first 30-point performance of the season. Anthony is leading the NBA with an average of 39.2 minutes.

KEY MATCHUP vs. BULLS: Al Jefferson vs Joakim Noah

These two teams met just two weeks ago on Jan. 11, in Chicago, with the Bulls coming away with a 103-97 victory. In that game, Al Jefferson and Joakim Noah battled to a relative stalemate. Jefferson finished with 20 points on 10-for-22 shooting (45.5 percent) and also pulled down 11 rebounds, while Noah tallied 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the floor (58.3 percent), 14 boards and added four assists. Since that game, Jefferson has averaged 26.2 points, 12.5 boards and 3.2 assists while Noah has averaged 15.0 points, 17.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists. On the season, Noah is averaging 11.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 3.8 assists in 33.4 minutes and Jefferson is averaging 18.4 points, 10.4 boards, and 2.1 assists in 33.7 minutes. Both big men recorded their 17th double-doubles on Jan. 20 – Jefferson went for 22 points (9-for-18 shooting) and grabbed 19 rebounds while Noah scored 17 points (6-for-16 from the floor) and a brought down a season-high 21 boards. Jefferson has scored in double figures in 29 of his 31 games played this season, including 14 games of 20 points or more. Jefferson’s 18 double-doubles on the season are tied for the eighth-best single-season total in franchise history. Jefferson also tallied his fourth-consecutive game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers, tying the longest streak in franchise history set by Emeka Okafor in 2006. Noah has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in 14-straight games, the longest such streak of his career. Noah has had seven games this season in which he has had at least 15 boards and five assists, which is second in the league to only Minnesota’s Kevin Love. This game should be a battle between two of the best big men in the league.

SCOUTING THE BOBCATS (19-25)

The biggest standout when scouting the Bobcats is the absence of floor general Kemba Walker. Walker had played in 190 consecutive games since being drafted in 2011, recording the second-longest consecutive games played streak in franchise history behind only Boris Diaw’s 268. While Walker is out with his left ankle injury, Head Coach Steve Clifford has turned to the services of Ramon Sessions and Jannero Pargo to fill the void. In the first game playing without Walker, the Cats held on for a five-point victory over the Toronto Raptors after having been up by as much as 30. A lot of that that can be attributed to game conditioning, when asked about that Jannero Pargo said, “There is no way to prepare for game shape, there is only one way and that is playing in the games… Hopefully I’ll get better in the next game and we can do better in the fourth quarter”… Al Jefferson scored 22 points, grabbed 19 rebounds and handed out a career-high-tying seven assists on Monday against Toronto, with 10 points and 10 rebounds in the first quarter, Jefferson became the first Bobcats player ever to record a double-double in the first quarter of a game… Josh McRoberts’ addition to the stat sheet has increased dramatically over the last five games. McRoberts has scored in double figures in five consecutive games and is shooting is shooting 14-for-21 from beyond the three-point line (66.7 percent) during the five-game stretch… The Bobcats are averaging 25.4 free throw attempts and have attempted more free throws than their opponent in 29 of their 43 contests this season. They have attempted more free throws than their opponent in 18 of their 19 victories this season and are 18-12 when doing so… The Bobcats have played a league-high 21 games this season decided by six points or less and are 11-10 in those games… Also this season the Bobcats are giving up only 96.8 points per game, the sixth-lowest average in the NBA. Additionally the Bobcats have held their opponent under 100 points in 29 of their 44 games this season, the third-most such games in the NBA.

SCOUTING THE KNICKS (15-27)

New York returns eight players from last season’s postseason roster: Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Kenyon Martin, Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, and Amar’e Stoudemire. There are 12 new players on the roster. NBA champions Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih joined the team via free agency. The Knicks also traded for number one overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft, Andrea Bargnani. Also joining the Knicks is the No. 24 overall pick of the 2013 draft, Tim Hardaway Jr. The Knicks also signed guard Tour’e Murray, Chris Smith, and forward Cole Aldrich… New York grabbed a season-high 55 rebounds in a Jan. 17 loss against the LA Clippers. In Jan. 13 win over Phoenix, New York won its first game this season that was decided by three-points or less, having previously gone 0-5... After leading the NBA last season with fewest turnovers per game (11.6), New York is second in the league turning the ball over a slim 12.3 times a game... New York is 6-1 when it holds it opponents under 90-points and 12-8 when it holds its opponents under 100 points. New York is in the midst of an eight-game homestand (1-2), which is tied for the longest home stand in franchise history.

SCOUTING THE BULLS (21-20)

In 11of their 20 wins this season, the Bulls have held their opponents to 81-points-or-less each game. Since 2010-11, Chicago is 75-9 (.893) when it keeps its opponent under 90 points… With its 102-100 victory over the Lakers on Monday, Chicago notched its second win of the season when its opponent scores 100 or more points. The Bulls are 7-2 on the year when they scored 100 or more points… On Jan. 11 versus Charlotte, Chicago had three players record a double-double in the same game for the fourth time this season. Joakim Noah (19 points, 14 rebounds), D.J. Augustin (20 points, 12 assists) and Carlos Boozer (12 points, 10 boards) all recorded double-doubles… In Chicago’s 91-84 win over Atlanta on Jan. 4, Chicago employed its 14th different starting lineup this season. Last year, the Bulls did not use their 14th different starting lineup until April 9. This season, Chicago has employed 16 different starting lineups, its most since 2008-09, when the team used 18 different starting lineups… Once again, the Bulls continue to prove their defensive prowess, as they rank near the top of the league in opponent scoring and opponent field goal percentage. In 2009-10, the season before Tom Thibodeau’s arrival in Chicago, the Bulls ranked 13th in the NBA in scoring defense (99.1 ppg). Since Thibodeau’s arrival in 2011, Chicago has ranked in the top three in opponent scoring each season (second in 2010-11, first in 2011-12 and third in 2012-13). Chicago is currently second in opponent scoring and third in opponent field goal percentage.

TUNE IN

Catch both games on TV on Fox SportSouth and NBA League Pass, or listen via bobcats.com, the Bobcats app and on WFNZ 610 am.

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