New York Knicks 70th Anniversary

5 Things To Know: The Knicks Conclude Road Trip in Houston with Matchup Against Red-Hot Rockets

by Jonah Ballow
NYKnicks.com
@jonahballow

8:00 PM EST | Toyota Center
TV:  MSG Network
Radio: ESPN NY 98.7 FM

5 Things To Know:

1.  The Knicks fell on Friday night in a 104-92 defeat to the Pelicans.  After taking the lead late in the second quarter, New Orleans rallied to snatch back the advantage heading to the locker room at the half.  Anthony Davis scored 23 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in leading the Pelicans to their fourth straight victory.  Carmelo Anthony scored a game-high 26 points but New York suffered its second loss on the current three-game road trip that concludes tonight in Houston.  At 16-16, the Knicks are now seventh in the latest Eastern Conference standings.

2.  Courtney Lee missed his second straight game on Friday with a sore right wrist.  The shooting guard was feeling better at the morning shootaround in New Orleans but could not suit up after testing the wrist during a pregame warm-up.  Lee’s status is unclear for tonight’s matchup against the Rockets.  Head coach Jeff Hornacek started Sasha Vujacic at the 2 in the last two games and he brought Justin Holiday off the bench.  In other roster moves, the Knicks recalled Ron Baker and Marshall Plumlee and both are expected to join the team in Houston today.    

3.  The two teams met early in the season on November 2 at Madison Square Garden.  Houston captured a 118-99 win while James Harden became the first player since Magic Johnson with at least 30 points and 15 assists in back-to-back games.  Eric Gordon scored 21, Ryan Anderson added 16, the Rockets shot 40 three-pointers, and outrebounded the Knicks 54-34.  On the other side of the floor, Carmelo Anthony posted 21 points and Courtney Lee and Derrick Rose combined for 32.

4.  Houston secured its third straight win on Friday night by dismantling the short-handed Clippers 140-116 at the Toyota Center.  Doc and Austin Rivers were ejected from the contest as the Rockets attempted a season-high 43 free throws in the win.  Houston improved to 25-9 on the season with eight victories in its last 10 outings and a firm spot in the Western Conference standings at No. 3 behind Golden State and San Antonio.

5.  Mike D’Antoni’s style and the Rockets personal have meshed quickly to create an offensive juggernaut out West.  Houston owns the No. 3 best offensive rating in the league, second-best effective field goal percentage, and the No. 2 true shooting percentage.  Naturally, the Rockets employ a fast break style of game by ranking fourth in the NBA in pace of play.  Houston is shooting a record number of three-pointers, launching a jaw-dropping 39.2 long bombs per game.  Remarkably, D’Antoni’s squad is hitting 38 percent of those attempts.  The move to shift Harden to the point guard spot is paying off in a big way as the MVP candidate is averaging 27.8 points and 11.8 assists per game this year.  Patrick Beverley returned to the lineup last night to join the backcourt with Harden while Gordon came off the bench.  D’Antoni has also found a gem in Montrezl Harrell of late.  Clint Capela is out until mid-January due to a small fracture of his left fibula but Harrell has stepped into major minutes at center.  Harrell scored a career-high 29 points last night and is averaging 16.6 points on 67.3 percent shooting over his last five games.