New York Knicks (12-10)
- The Knicks start a 10-day, five-game road trip in Sacramento at their brand new Golden 1 Center. It replaces Arco Arena where the Kings enjoyed so much success over the years. In 28 years of the Arco’s existence, the Kings compiled a 629-493 record and brought a ton of excitement to the state’s capital. However, Sacramento has not enjoyed a winning season in the past 10 years and are off to an 8-13 start to the season.
- Derrick Rose is doubtful tonight with tightness in his right leg, meaning Brandon Jennings will get his second straight start. Jennings had 16 points, three assists and three turnovers getting the start on Wednesday against Cleveland. He told me this morning, there is a little adjustment in starting rather than coming off the bench because “I’ve been a starter in this league for a long time and I’m comfortable with it. The coach is encouraging me to shoot when shots are available, but playmaking for my teammates is the number one priority.”
- Sasha Vujacic will be pressed into extra duty dealing with Darren Collison, saying, “I’ve got to keep him from getting from where he wants to go on the court.” As for the loss to the Cavs, “We have to forget about it but remember it as well. It was embarrassing, but our attention is on Sacramento, the first game of a road trip is very important to see where we are and where we can go in the next 10 days.”
- Carmelo Anthony was focused on what the Knicks had produced so far, winning nine of their last 13 and two straight on the road. He continues to show his leadership in the locker room by handling the pressure of being the team’s leading scorer by accentuating the positives.
- Joakim Noah has a major assignment tonight vs. DeMarcus Cousins, who had 36 points at The Garden last Sunday. Noah told me this morning, “I try to make it as tough as possible on him, he is very versatile, it takes a team effort to slow him down. It’s tough every night, a challenge against big men like him, but if we do what we have to do, we can come out with a victory.”
- The Knicks have gone 3-1 in their last four despite Kristaps Porzingis‘ shooting struggles. The big man has made just 19 of his last 60 shots (31%).
SACRAMENTO KINGS (8-13)
- The Kings are returning from a six-game road trip in which they won only two games and now have six of their next nine away from Sacramento.
- Sacramento had a season-high 28 assists in a 120-89 victory in Dallas Wednesday. They also scored 68 points in the paint and had 34 points off turnovers.
- Sunday in New York, the Kings allowed the Knicks to go 11-29 from the 3-point line, were out-rebounded by eight and shot only 32% themselves, missing a number of easy shots within five feet of the paint.
- First-year Kings coach Dave Joerger told me that he made a change in his starting lineup, inserting Ben McLemore for Arron Afflalo, saying it was time to give the youngster a chance, “I always feel the veteran gets the first crack, but now it’s time for McLemore to show me what he has.” The 23-year-old was the seventh overall pick in the 2013 Draft and has 232 games under his belt, with a career average of just under 10 points a game.