5 Things to Know: Knicks Host LBJ, Defending Champs at MSG
1. An unlikely group saved the Knicks in Brooklyn on Wednesday night. Brandon Jennings, Sasha Vujacic, Justin Holiday, and Willy Hernangomez joined Kristaps Porzingis to form the crew that powered New York to a 13-2 fourth quarter run that eventually led to a 95-90 road victory. Porzingis scored 12 of his 19 in the final quarter and Hernangomez posted a double-double to end the Knicks three-game road trip.
2. Derrick Rose has missed three straight games due to sprained ankle. At Friday’s practice, Rose was limited but participated in part of the session without a walking boot. His return to the lineup is very much in doubt. In the games Rose has missed, head coach Jeff Hornacek started Brandon Jennings at the point guard position while mainly utilizing Ron Baker as the second unit floor general. Jennings is averaging 15 points 7.6 assists, and 3.3 steals per game in the three outings as the starter.
3. Kevin Love will return to action on Saturday night after suffering from lower back spasms over the Cavaliers last two games. Cleveland started Channing Frye in Love’s place in the starting lineup and the team compiled a 1-1 record in those games. Love earned a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star squad this season by averaging 19.9 points and 11 rebounds per game to go along with a 37.5 percent clip from the 3-point line.
4. Trade rumors, LeBron James’ dispute with Charles Barkley, and a 5-5 mark over their last 10 have casted a somewhat dark shadow over the Cavaliers of late. Regardless of the recent issues, the defending champs made a move to acquire sharpshooter Kyle Korver and they own the top spot in the latest Eastern Conference standings. Cleveland does have cause for concern as several teams in the East have closed the gap. Washington and Toronto are 4.5 games behind the Cavaliers and the Celtics are riding a six-game winning streak, just two games back from the No. 1 spot. Cleveland begins a four-game road trip tonight in New York before heading to Washington, Indiana, and Oklahoma City next Thursday night.
5. The Cavaliers own a 2-0 record against the Knicks in the season series. In the first matchup, Cleveland cruised to a 117-88 win on ring ceremony night and the second meeting resulted in a 126-94 win at MSG. In tonight’s third tilt between the two teams, James has an eye on the record books as he could become the youngest player in NBA history to score 28,000 points. James needs just 12 points to hit the record.
by Jonah Ballow