Pregame: 5 Things to Know - Knicks Close Road Trip in Dallas Against Nowitzki’s Mavs
1. The Knicks managed to survive Monday’s roller coaster road game in Indy behind Carmelo Anthony’s late-game heroics. Anthony scored on a fading jumper near the baseline to provide New York with a two-point advantage and enough breathing room to secure the 109-103 win. The Knicks snapped a nine-game regular season losing skid at Indiana while halting a two-game slide. Anthony finished with a game-high 26 points and the bench combined for 39 as New York improved to 20-26 on the season.
2. Since returning from the Achilles issues, Kristaps Porzingis has scored a total of 37 points in three games. He shot 54.5 percent in his first game back, 53.8 percent in Saturday’s home game, but just 3-of-11 in Monday’s contest against the Pacers. The second-year standout explained some his shooting issues following Tuesday’s practice session in Dallas. Porzingis said he needs to create more lift on his perimeter shots, use his legs, avoid rushing his attempts, and clean up his approach with one fluid motion as opposed to a hitch at the top of his release. Tonight, Porzingis will get the opportunity to square off against a pioneer for European players in the NBA. Dirk Nowitzki did not suit up in the first matchup between the two teams at MSG but Porzingis will go toe-to-toe with the future Hall-of-Famer and one of his favorite players tonight in Dallas.
3. Willy Hernangomez’s recent play is showing the coaching staff the rookie might deserve more time in the rotation despite a crowded frontcourt. In the win over the Celtics, Hernangomez scored 17 points and hauled down 11 rebounds in just 20 minutes of action. On Monday, the Spaniard played a major role by posting a double-double (14 points / 10 rebounds) to go along with two blocks and a steal.
4. For the first time since the 2012-13 season, the Mavericks could be absent from the playoffs as the team sits in the 13th spot in the Western Conference standings, just a half-game ahead of the Suns for the worst mark in the Conference. With that said, Dallas has won four of its last six games, which includes a three-game winning streak and a blowout victory over the Lakers. The Mavericks blasted Los Angeles 122-73, handing the Lakers their worst loss in franchise history. Dallas’ head coach Rick Carlisle has adjusted his starting lineup and rotation due to injury and performance issues. J.J. Barea is out with a left calf strain, Seth Curry has joined the starting group, and Andrew Bogut is expected to return tonight against the Knicks.
5. In November, the two teams collided for the first time this season and New York cruised to a 93-77 win. Porzingis and Anthony registered 24 points apiece while Harrison Barnes posted a team-high 20 points in the defeat. The Knicks conclude the two-game road trip on Wednesday before returning home for a matchup against the Hornets on Friday night. Dallas will jump on the road after tonight’s game for contests in Oklahoma City and San Antonio.
by Jonah Ballow