Things are looking bleak for the New York Knicks, and in comes Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic on Monday looking to pile on. Game time is 1 p.m. ET (MSG).
New York has lost its last two games in blowout fashion to fall to 6-6 on the season, and they may again be without their top player, Carmelo Anthony. Anthony left the Knicks’ Thursday loss at Memphis with a sprained ankle, and the injury kept him out of the team’s Saturday debacle in Oklahoma City against the Thunder. In the defeat at Oklahoma City, the Knicks, who were supposed to be an improved defensive team this season, allowed 70 first half points and were never in the game. On Monday in their annual Martin Luther King Day home matinee, New York will have to account for Howard, who is having a career year.
The Magic (8-3) center is averaging over 20 points a game and is also pulling down a career-best 15.2 rebounds per contest. The task will fall at the hands of Knicks’ center Tyson Chandler, whom the team acquired for games such as this. But as much as the Knicks have struggled on the defensive side, something is array with their offense as well. The team is near the bottom of the league in shooting percentage and assists per game, and without Anthony — who is a game-time decision — New York will be fighting an uphill battle again.
With Anthony out, the go-to guy is Amar’e Stoudemire, who has gotten off to a rough start. His 18.7 points-per-game doesn’t sound all too bad, but it’s down significantly from his career totals. His jump shot has been off all year, and he hasn’t been able to score as consistently as usual when driving to the lane. Stoudemire’s struggles could likely be attributed to the Knicks’ lack of a true point guard, and with Baron Davis still a couple of weeks away from returning from injury, the Stoudemire and the Knicks will have to work out the kinks on the fly.
There are many teams in the NBA that you could skate by against, even without you top player. Howard and the Magic do not quite fit that bill.