Game 29 Preview: Kings at Knicks

Game 29 Preview: Kings at Knicks

Cowbell Kingdom

Game 29 Preview: Kings at Knicks


The Sacramento Kings continue their six-game road trip in New York, where they’ll witness Lin-sanity for the first and only time this season.

Gametime: 4:30 pm PT

Broadcast Information: Click here.

For Knicks perspective, visit fellow TrueHoop Network blog Knickerblogger.

Kings Probable Starters (10-18)

Tyreke Evans Marcus Thornton John Salmons Jason Thompson DeMarcus Cousins

Trailing by as many as 19 points, the Sacramento Kings didn’t quit in last night’s six-point loss to the Chicago Bulls.  DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton all had stand-out games, each scoring at least 20-points.  Jason Thompson also put together a nice game for the Kings, posting a near double-double with eight points and 11 rebounds.

A key for the Kings against the Knicks is containing Jeremy Lin in the pick-and-roll.  From ESPN Stats & Information:

The Sacramento Kings are among the league’s worst teams at defending the rolling man in pick-and-roll offenses, ranking in the bottom five in Points Per Play. Additionally, 15 percent of the points the Kings have allowed on those plays have come at the free-throw line, third-highest in the NBA. The Knicks offense ranks first in free-throw percentage in those situations.

Knicks Probable Starters (14-15)

Jeremy Lin Landry Fields Bill Walker Amar’e Stoudemire Tyson Chandler

What is there to say about Jeremy Lin that hasn’t been said already?  The guy has been an absolute beast and is the main reason the Knicks have won six consecutive games.  He has been a master at getting into the paint, showing a propensity to use screens as a means of penetration.  But even though Lin has averaged 8.5 assists over the Knicks win-streak, the Kings must understand he’s more likely to shoot rather pass off the pick-and-roll.  According to mySynergySports, the majority of Lin’s offensive possessions are pick-and-roll ballhandler situations (47.5 percent).

3-on-3 Roundtable

You may be familiar with’s 5-on-5 roundtables, which feature opinion and analysis from ESPN writers and TrueHoop Network contributors on pressing NBA topics. Along with other THN blogs, Cowbell Kingdom has brought that format to the local level in the form of our own 3-on-3 roundtable.

Jonah Ballow of and Kevin McElroy of Knickerblogger join me to preview tonight’s Kings/Knicks match-up.

1. Match-up to watch?

Jonah Ballow:  Amar’e Stoudemire vs. DeMarcus Cousins.  Cousins dusted off the early struggles and is thriving under head coach Keith Smart.  On the opposite side, STAT is back and ready to join the Lin-sanity with his own Nash-esque point guard who flourishes in the pick-and-roll.  Both teams are looking for an advantage on the frontline and these two big men could decide the final outcome.

Kevin McElroy:  Tyreke Evans vs. Iman Shumpert.  Jeremy Lin’s emergence at point guard has allowed the Knicks to play Shumpert almost exclusively at the two, where his chuck-and-slash approach puts pressure on defenses – minus the high turnover rate.  The result: solid offensive efficiency to go along with the size and quickness to keep scoring wings away from the rim at the other end.  Against Evans, those latter qualities will be critical to a Knick victory.

Jonathan Santiago:  Tyreke Evans vs. Jeremy Lin.  As Kevin alluded to above, Iman Shumpert is likely to defend Evans.  But the Kings guard will probably spend most of his time on defense against Lin.  Out of all the guards Lin has faced during his magical stretch, Evans is perhaps Lin’s greatest physical challenge.  Lin has yet to encounter a point guard as big Evans, who stands at 6’6 and weighs 220 lbs.

2. Stat that decides the game…

Jonah Ballow:  Free throw percentage.  Both teams rank in the top ten in free throw attempts and in the first meeting, Sacramento reached the charity stripe an alarming 41 times.  The Kings only connected on 63 percent while New York hit 24-of-27 in a 22-point road victory.

Kevin McElroy:  Combined field goal attempts between Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler.  The Kings interior defense has been a disaster, with opponents shooting an astounding 69.8 percent from close and opposing bigs regularly racking up star-level PERs. Lin can take a break from the heroics tonight; if he can simply pound the ball to his two best post scorers for 30 shots, the Knicks should score enough to win.

Jonathan Santiago:  Points in the paint.  Currently the Kings allow more points inside than any other team this season (48.6 oPiP per game).  Lin does most of his damage around the rim.

3. Brighter long-term outlook: Jimmer-mania or Lin-sanity?

Jonah Ballow:  Obviously, we need more data and visual evidence from both players, but at the moment it’s hard to argue against Lin.  The second-year guard has size, speed, vision, and patience to run the point guard spot.  Fredette is more of a gunner with defensive deficiencies and I would consider him a specialty player while Lin can develop into the signal caller of the future for the Knicks.

Kevin McElroy:  Fredette may never validate his draft position but he will be a useful player with an extended NBA career if he is utilized as an off-ball scorer.  Lin is much tougher to call.  His accuracy on long twos has been unsustainable and his efficiency will take a tumble when that regresses to the mean.  However, Lin’s ability getting to the rim is probably not a fluke.  As for his high turnover rate, adding some restraint to his already advanced court vision should solve much of the problem.  Going forward, Lin must improve his floater to stay somewhat unpredictable when the jumpers stop falling.  However, plenty of scoring guards have succeeded in the NBA with a lesser tool kit than an elite free throw rate and excellent court vision.  More risk, higher upside, I’ll keep Lin.

Jonathan Santiago:  Jeremy Lin is a lot closer to becoming a true point guard than Jimmer Fredette right now.  But overall, I like both their potentials.  What Lin is accomplishing under intense media scrutiny says everything about his character and will to succeed.  Meanwhile, Jimmer went through this growing process before at BYU, where he didn’t play much his first collegiate season.  From conversations I’ve had with those in the college and NBA ranks, Jimmer, like Lin, has a similar kind of drive that should pay dividends for him as a pro.

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