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Saturday, December 31, 2011
W2W4: Knicks @ Kings

By Ian Begley

It's only the fourth game of the season, but Carmelo Anthony told reporters that Saturday's game against the Sacramento Kings is a "must-win."

Strong stuff.

But considering how badly the Knicks have struggled in losses to Golden State and the Lakers, you can see where Anthony is coming from.

With Amare Stoudemire out with an ankle injury, the Knicks face an even bigger challenge against the 1-2 Kings.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while watching the game:

SHOOTING FOR THE STARS: The Knicks shot just 31 percent from the field against the Lakers, their poorest percentage since Nov. 29, 2007. Clearly, they need to hit more than one out of every three shots on Saturday to be effective. The injured Stoudemire missed 13 of his 17 attempts against the Lakers and struggled similarly against Golden State.

With Stoudemire out, that puts more of the scoring onus on Anthony, who had 27 points against Los Angeles.

There's one factor here that could work in the Knicks' favor: Sacramento has allowed 104.5 points per game in back-to-back losses.

PAINT THE TOWN BLUE? The Knicks were thoroughly dominated in the paint against Los Angeles. The Lakers outscored the Knicks, 44-26, in the paint. It was the third straight game the Knicks were outscored by at least 10 in the paint.

This doesn't necessarily mean that the Knicks are giving up tons of easy baskets in the paint in half court sets. Some of the high-point totals can be attributed to fast-break layups and dunks.

But no matter how the points are being scored, it isn't a good trend. Especially considering that the Knicks struggled so mightily in defending the paint last session. It will be interesting to see what affect Tyson Chandler has on the Kings' interior scoring on Saturday.

WHAT'S THE POINT? The Knicks got two points and no assists from backup Mike Bibby against Los Angeles. This came a night after Bibby and Toney Douglas combined for eight points, six assists and three turnovers on 4-of-16 shooting against Golden State. We have also seen little semblance of a pick-and-roll thus far. Will that troubling trend continue against Sacramento? Or will the Knicks' point guards, who've looked overmatched through three games, start to get it together?

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