Tuesday, November 20, 2012
W2W4: Knicks at Hornets
By Jared Zwerling
Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Anthony Davis won gold medals together in London this summer. Tuesday night in New Orleans, they face each other for the first time in the NBA. Here are three things to watch for, with tipoff at 8 p.m.:
1. Davis vs. Melo? The Hornets present Mike Woodson with a unique starting lineup decision. Does he continue to go with his usual five, or change it up slightly to match up with New Orleans' bigger frontline of Al-Farouq Aminu (6-9), Davis (6-10) and Robin Lopez (7-0). But Woodson has said he's "really happy" with Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Ronnie Brewer, Anthony and Tyson Chandler. So Melo could guard Davis, who's coming off his best performance of the season Saturday (28 points, 11 rebounds in a loss to the Bucks).
While Anthony has the experience factor over Davis, the rookie's length and quickness could cause some havoc down low for the Knicks, who are allowing 63.7 percent shooting in the restricted area (within five feet of the basket). Where Anthony really has to help is keeping the mobile Davis, as well as the bigger-sized 6-6 point guard Greivis Vasquez (8.9 assists per game), at bay in the pick-and-roll. That hasn't been one of the strongest areas of the Knicks' defense, and Melo has gotten beat a few times on pick-and-rolls this season, which got Woodson fired up from the sideline.
2. Can the Knicks force the Hornets to shoot missed jumpshots? That's been the main ingredient of the Knicks' defense, as they're forcing a league-best 31.5 and 30.6 percent on jumpers and catch-and-shoot Js, respectively. The Hornets are attempting many more inside shots than outside ones, and that's because Ryan Anderson (37.3 percent) has been their only downtown threat. Starting shooting guard Austin Rivers (23.1 3-point percentage) has been nonexistent thus far.
3. Can Steve Novak keep it going? After four straight games only hitting one 3-pointer, he made three of them on Sunday in the win over the Pacers. Even though Woodson doesn't have designed plays for Novak, he's given the sharpshooter the green light.
"I'm not setting the offense around Novak. It's not going to happen," the coach said before the Pacers game. "Teams are not going to leave him a lot of times. I wouldn't leave him. He's getting still some good looks. Some are going in and some are not going in. That's just the nature of being a shooter. I'd rather tell him to shoot. If you got a shot, you've got to take them. He's just got to keep playing."
A Novak vs. Anderson back-and-forth shootout would be fun to watch -- and also a key stretch that could turn the game around for either team. But the Knicks are entering a very winnable situation Tuesday night against the struggling 3-5 Hornets.