5 Things to Know: Knicks Seek 2 in a Row Against Surging Wizards at MSG
1. The Knicks overcame a nine-point deficit late in the first quarter and a shorthanded lineup to notch a crucial road victory in Boston on Wednesday night. With Joakim Noah, Kristaps Porzingis, and Lance Thomas sidelined, New York rallied in the second quarter behind an impressive effort from the second unit. Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Willy Hernangomez combined for 34 points while Derrick Rose exploded for 30 to lead New York to a 117-106 win.
2. Porzingis tested his sore Achilles on Wednesday morning at the team’s shootaround in Boston and during a pregame warm-up. Due to a pinch in his ankle, the medical staff and Porzingis wanted to remain cautious before returning to the floor for game action. Noah was ruled out of Wednesday’s game with a sore ankle. The Knicks center is expected to undergo an MRI today in New York. Thomas will need practice time to adjust to a new face mask that is required following an orbital fracture. Porzingis and Noah’s status is unclear for tonight’s contest and head coach Jeff Hornacek will provide an update at 6:15 PM.
3. Keep an eye on the recent surge from Kuzminskas. The Lithuanian rookie has stepped into a starting role amid injury issues in the New York’s starting lineup. With increased minutes, fans are starting to see the all-around offensive skill-set from Kuzminskas as he runs the floor, finishes around the rim, and works well in open space by moving without the ball. In the month of January, Kuzminskas is averaging 11.4 points, shooting 53 percent from the floor, hitting 38 percent from downtown in 21.4 minutes per game.
4. The Wizards continue to sizzle at home as they captured another victory in front of their crowd on Wednesday night in a 104-101 win over Memphis. Otto Porter Jr. was a difference maker by hitting a career-high six 3-pointers en route to a 25-point performance. John Wall continues his All-Star level of play with 25 points and 13 assists and the Wizards improved to 22-19 overall (18-6 at home). On the flip side, Washington is just 4-13 in road games and only 1-7 in the second of back-to-back games.
5. The Knicks and Wizards squared off early in the season on November 17. Washington built a big lead before a remarkable 47-point fourth quarter from the visiting team. The offensive outburst in the final stanza helped New York close the gap but it ultimately fell 119-112. Rose scored 27 points, Anthony recorded 19, and Brandon Jennings scored 15 of his 17 in the fourth quarter. Tonight’s contest is the second of a four-game season series between the two teams. Following the Thursday night matchup, the Knicks will travel to the nation’s capital on January 31 for the third battle.
by Jonah Ballow