Game Preview & Thread: Knicks at Pelicans

The New York Knicks take on the New Orleans Pelicans tonight at 8:00 EST in their second game of a back-to-back. To get a better idea of what the Knicks are in for tonight I brought in Mason Ginsberg of Bourbon Street Shots and David Fisher of The Bird Writes.


After a rough January the Pelicans have won four of their last seven games. The Pelicans are 23-29 overall, last in the Southwest Division, but it really doesn’t seem like they’ve been that bad. What’s been the biggest reason(s) for their struggles this season?

Mason: Injuries, without question. This team’s 2013-14 ceiling was nothing more than a 7th or 8th seed, but with a full complement of players, they could have certainly pushed for a playoff spot. Anderson and Holiday have both missed considerable periods of time, and even Anthony Davis has missed 8 games. The hope was that the Pelicans would have their new core play together for most of the season and start to build some chemistry, but that unfortunately hasn’t happened so far.

David: Injuries. Ryan Anderson has missed 30 games. Jrue Holiday has missed 18. The pieces worked when they were together, but the rotation has been a series of stops and starts. Anderson in particular is important. He creates the space necessary for their trio of bal dominant guards (Holiday, Evans, Gordon) to operate. This team simply avoids taking threes without Anderson in the lineup.

With the trade deadline coming tomorrow I have to ask, what are the chances Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps makes a big trade by tomorrow?

Mason: The only way that the Pelicans make a major move is if Eric Gordon is involved. I don’t really think that they’re looking to move any of their other big contracts; not only is Gordon overpaid, but his skill set is redundant on this team. Other than him, the only players that may be dealt are lesser role players.

David: I think he is torn due to the above. The five big contracts on the roster together were very successful. On the other hand, there is a lot of redundancy. Moving Gordon is probably the number one thing he’s working, but finding a taker for his contract is going to be difficult. I would love a trade like the one below, but doubt the Knicks would think Rivers is a sufficient upgrade from Felton.

Outside of Anthony Davis, who would you else has excelled for the Pelicans this season? Who has fallen off?

Mason: Other than Anthony Davis, it has been a rough year for the rest of the team, as players have either played well but gotten hurt (Holiday, Anderson) or have had disappointing years. Withey has done more than most expected from him and Rivers has undoubtedly improved from last season, but excessive minutes for low-upside players like Roberts, Stiemsma and Ajinca have arguably been roadblocks to their development.

David: No other players have really stuck out either direction. Tyreke Evans gets a lot of flak nationally due to his low production, but digging deeper he has been efficient. His minutes have diminished significantly and he has struggled at the basket playing with lineups featuring two bigs, most times two big who are non-factors on offense. Eric Gordon has actually been healthy, which is a promising development long term. With Brian Roberts running the offense Gordon gets froze out for long stretches, but I blame that on execution rather than Gordon being passive.

The Pelicans are 26th in the league in DRtg, which seems high for their roster. Why have they struggled defensively? How should the Knicks game plan to attack them?

Mason: Outside of Davis and the injured Holiday, the Pelicans don’t really have any surefire plus defenders. Aminu, Gordon, & Evans are all athletic, but none are consistent on the defensive end, so the team has trouble on the wings. In the middle, Ajinca and Stiemsma are fouling machines, so opponents frequently get into the penalty early in quarters. Additionally, Monty Williams’ hard hedging defensive system takes Davis away from the rim too much, which further impacts the strength of the defense.

David: The defense has actually been much better in the past 13 games, 10th in the league according to NBA Stats. The Pels have struggled for schematic more than personnel reasons. They play a rather aggressive scheme (covered below) forcing inexperienced players into chaos rotations on the backside, leading to frequent breakdowns and open shots for the opposition.

The key to attacking the Pelicans is involving Anthony Davis in Pick and Roll defense, strange as that might sound. The Monty Williams scheme is heavy on hard hedging; getting the best individual defender for New Orleans 30+ feet from the basket is always a good idea. Run high pick and roll all night and pass the ball – open threes will result.

Who ultimately wins tonight and why?

Mason: Though New Orleans is the home team and holds a 3 1/2 game lead over New York in a more difficult conference, I expect game to be a very close one. If the Pelicans continue their foul-happy practices and give the Knicks more free throw attempts than they typically earn, they could easily get upset. That being said, if guys like Roberts, Morrow, and Babbitt can capitalize on the Knicks’ poor perimeter defense, then the Pelicans could win by double digits. My prediction: New Orleans 89, New York 86.

David: The Pelicans should win. They are much more rested than the Knicks and have two full days of practice under their belt. New York going (and staying) small should force Monty Williams to match; always good to limit Greg Stiemsma’s minutes and increase AD’s time at center. Pelicans come out strong and hold on for dear life to the end, winning 93-88.


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Chase Thomas

Chase Thomas is new to KnickerBlogger but has written about the Knicks for years now. Was in attendance for Nate Robinson's 41 point night versus the Hawks. Successfully annoyed Allan Houston's assistant for talking his ear off while sitting next to him at a Knicks game 3 years ago. Follow him on twitter:

84 thoughts to “Game Preview & Thread: Knicks at Pelicans”

  1. sorry people, trashed that previous thread, thought I could bring the comments over but it appears not….

  2. Davis and Ajinca together have some serious wingspan. Ajinca’s wingspan measures 7’9, which is pretty insane….

  3. Just when it appeared that the Knicks might actually make a decent trade…

    Actually, this might force the Knicks to stand pat and forsake this season in favor of 2015. Something I am all in favor of…even if it means another year and a half of Felton.

  4. I hated the 1984-85 season when it happened to the Knicks the first time.

    This repeat performance feels equally awful.

  5. Someone tell me, is it worth Woodson getting ejected? I think having him out is worth more than the point we would give up, quite possibly….

  6. Actually, this might force the Knicks to stand pat and forsake this season in favor of 2015. Something I am all in favor of…even if it means another year and a half of Felton.

    Or it means we trade TH2 and I do something I’ll regret in some sort of drunken haze/rage.

  7. Have there been more fast break points this game than in the rest of the season combined?

    And a block from Felton? My head is spinning….

  8. I’m not understanding this yal…no STAT no Kmart no Bargnani and Woodson still won’t play Cole or MWP?? I know we got the lead and all..but with those guys out against a similarly undermanned Pelicans squad shouldn’t Cole and MWP be given a shot?

  9. the idea of giving up an asset to rid ourselves of felton baffles me. im no felton fan, but his contract is not hurting us. it doesnt affect us at all for another 18 months. besides, if we get rid of him now, we will just sign someone else to a similarly stupid deal next offseason and be stuck with that guy until 2017. we are in a bad pattern of stupid signings and immediate panic trades to undue them (see the billups amnesty, the novak and camby for bargs trade, impending felton trades, impending JR trades)

  10. i know no one will believe me, but I actually have always kind of liked babbit. maybe just because hes a lefty

  11. I’m rooting for the pelican win… I’ve fallen so hard off this knick wagon… I’ve become what I despise.

  12. That Roberts layup was the direct result of the Unibrow alley oop in the first quarter. Chandler was not going to be shown up that way again, so he let Roberts go.

  13. Re: Prigs – it’s got to be so easy to guard him, because you know he’s never, ever going to continue to the basket, even if he beats you off the dribble

  14. the pels play by play guy is the worst basketball announcer that i have ever heard. and that is saying something.

  15. Carmelo thinks he’s good cause he can beat the pelicans scoring on Luke Babbitt. I phucking hate this team

  16. see melo. this is Dolan’s clear plan that you were asking for. All you need to do is score 45 every night.

  17. I guess its a good thing the Pelicans are tanking and their coach kept Gordan out most of the 4th.

  18. You think Ryan Anderson might have helped the Pelicans tonight? We pretty much held him in check at MSG

  19. Melo lost all his cool points for flexing after shooting over Babbit even though he did hit 2 shots over the brow before that.

  20. Well Knicks win late, UF win late, and the Cuse lose late. Uf with a chance to be ranked number 1. A good night.

  21. Carmelo thinks he’s good cause he can beat the pelicans scoring on Luke Babbitt. I phucking hate this team

    In fairness he scored on davis too. Also hes been struggling in fourth quarters, cut him some slack for being excited. lol no need to hate

  22. What sucks about the win is we needed a 42 pt game from Melo to beat an undermanned Pelicans team. No disrespect to The Brow (one of my faves already) and Gordon but they have no Anderson, Tyreke Evans is a HORRIBLE fit, no Holiday, no C who can guard Tyson in the PnR while we have a healthy Chandler, Melo, THJ, Earl, and emerging Tyler…AND WE STILL NEED 42 FROM MELO???!!!

  23. “Carmelo thinks he’s good cause he can beat the pelicans scoring on Luke Babbitt. I phucking hate this team”

    I’ll never understand insufferable Knicks fans desire to make everyone else more miserable and unhappy than themselves.. But really like what you bring to the board overall. Good takes.

  24. It’s definitely more fun complaining about a win than a loss. But this one was ugly. Neither team deserved to win. Eric Gordon getting benched for the majority of the 4th takes the cake. A very Woodson-esque move

  25. Yeah, we beat AD and a bunch of scrubs. I am ok with that.

    I’ll be honest, I kind of enjoy watching scrubs and somewhat talented no names. It’s pretty instructive…..

  26. I don’t understand why there’s an apparent demand for Iman Shumpert.

    I’d love to love the guy, but he’s an absolutely horrible offensive player for a guy with his athleticism and experience handling the ball.

  27. Pelicans have a better record. in the WEST so I dont understand what you mean. Also the knicks are missing 4 bigs @61

  28. Frankly, if you replace Felton and Shumpert’s minutes with slightly above average minutes, the Knicks are probably a pretty good team.

    Everything else looks at least pretty damn decent. Tyson is looking much better of late, even if he doesn’t protect the rim.

  29. Nice win but all I can think about is the 1 player the Knicks could/maybe should trade by tomorrow potentially has blown out his knee. This franchise besides being run by a bunch of idiots is freaking cursed too.

  30. Am I the only one who’s actually high on Collison? Always liked the dude. Think he’d have a good run alongside ‘Melo. We also get rid of Felton’s long-term deal, and we don’t have to worry about whether to extend Shump or not. The Bullock guy is just a roster balancer. Whoopee. He’ll probably get cut before the next season anyway. Total win for us.

  31. Latest reports before the ones saying the trade was dead said that Barnes was being included instead of Bullock. That kills it for me. Bullock was a big part of that trade, w/o him Id say forget it. Although now with Shump being potentially hurt I cant see him being traded by tomorrow anyway.

  32. Feel bad for Shump. He’s a good kid and just has had injury after injury. Looks like he will be staying with us. He needs to do some serious work on his game this offseason and hopefully whoever our coach is next year will figure out how to use him correctly.

  33. Yeah, this injury (as long as it isnt too serious) could be a blessing in disguise. Dont mind not doing anything by the deadline.

  34. Chandler Parsons is real. He still can’t shoot fts though. Calathes and Parsons was a nightmare in H.S.

  35. Also have to mention it was a helluva finish by Melo. 2nd of a back-to-back, played 40 mins after 42 last night and finished with 42 pts on 29 fga while basically carrying the offense on his back down the stretch and making a huge defensive play late in the game too.

  36. Feel bad for Shump, hope for the best. Barring any career threatening seriousness however, the biggest tragedy here is losing out on seeing JR, MWP, Kenyon and Barnes all on the same squad. This season is a joke anyway might as well have the craziest locker room of all time .

  37. “no C who can guard Tyson in the PnR”
    Which the Knicks exploited beautifully to the tune of 4 points on 2 for 6 from the field…

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