|New York||106||Pace: 87.5||121.2||65.3||20.7||15.0||23.6|
Jeff Teague (ATL) — 27 pts, 9/15 FGs
Carmelo Anthony (NYK) — 42 pts, 9/12 3FGs
Atlanta Hawks (25-18) vs. New York Knicks (26-15)
Both the Hawks and the Knicks are on hard times a bit right now. The Knicks recent swoon has allowed the Nets to get back into the division race. And the Hawks? Atlanta has struggled a lot after a surprising hot start and now are not nearly as good as initially thought.
The only saving grace for Atlanta seems to be that the team keeps playing struggling teams. Not even a 27-point lead was safe for Boston at Philips Arena on Friday. The Hawks were sure to get a big boost of confidence from that game.
That might be bad news for the Knicks in this one. New York got pummeled in Philadelphia on Saturday night, ruining the much-awaited return of Raymond Felton. Felton's return should provide a boost as he was playing extremely well before his injury derailed his season. And the Knicks have Iman Shumpert back and working his way to full strength.
That still does not change things for the Knicks. They are 5-5 in their last 10 games and have seen that comfortable division lead over the Nets shrink.
Similarly though, Atlanta is 5-5 in their last 10 games. But the Hawks have won their last three games. Perhaps the Hawks have turned the corner. That would be bad news for the Knicks.
Other Storylines to Watch
–Iman Shumpert told the New York Post that he believes the Knicks are a championship contender. With so few teams in contention out of the East, it is hard not to agree somewhat with that thought. Here is the rub though, the Knicks have not been out of the first round in more than a decade and so Shumpert admits that the first hurdle for this team is to accomplish that goal.
-Josh Smith was once again snubbed from the All-Star team. Smith has put up solid stats this year — 16.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game — but his stats are lower than they have been in year past. Really, it seemed like he should have been the team representative for a good Hawks team. That did not stop Smith from claiming he is a max player when he hits free agency this summer.
Tonight's Other Games
|Miami||98||Final — 2OT||90.1||43.2||30.9||16.7||20.8|
LeBron James (MIA) — 34 pts, 16 rebs, 7 assts
Paul Pierce (BOS) — 17 pts, 13 rebs, 10 assts
Miami Heat (28-12) vs. Boston Celtics (20-23)
Ray Allen will play his first game back in Boston today after spurning Boston's offer to return and taking less money to chase a title in Miami. I would imagine the Celtics faithful will not be so friendly to their former sharpshooter. Allen though will be in those familiar haunts early getting his shots up. Allen is shooting 44.3 percent from beyond the arc and averaging 11.4 points per game off the bench for Miami.
|L.A. Lakers||105||Pace: 94.8||110.8||60.1||17.1||13.9||39.2|
Russell Westbrook (OKC) — 17 pts, 13 assts, 9 rebs
Kobe Bryant (LAL) — 21 pts, 14 assts, 9 rebs
Oklahoma City Thunder (34-10) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (18-25)
Kobe Bryant did something odd in Friday's win over Utah. He passed the ball, recording 14 assists to go with 14 points. Mike D'Antoni compared the performance to Oscar Robertson. One thing is clear, the Lakers will start and end with Kobe Bryant. And when he is playing well — whether it be with his scoring or with his playmaking and passing — the Lakers remain a very very difficult team to beat. So making Kobe Bryant inefficient appears to be the key to keeping the Lakers reeling.
Brandon Knight (DET) — 31 pts, 12/16 FGs
J.J. Redick (ORL) — 31 pts, 8/11 3FGs
Detroit Pistons (16-27) vs. Orlando Magic (14-28)
Rob Hennigan spoke with the paper from his hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts explaining the thinking of the Dwight Howard trade. It is a trade that has turned out pretty poorly for just about every team involved (Denver is playing pretty well and Andre Iguodala has worked out fine). The Magic though made a nice find in Nikola Vucevic. Although the record certainly has suggested the expected massive fall.
|New Orleans||91||Pace: 89.1||102.1||48.7||35.9||15.5||29.9|
Ryan Anderson (NOH) — 22 pts, 7/13 3FGs
Zach Randolph (MEM) — 20 pts, 13 rebs
New Orleans Hornets (14-29) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (28-14)
People seem to be warming up to the Pelicans nickname. Much like the extremely bland Thunder, the nickname appears to be more of a talking point than something that actually matters. But the early reviews of the Pelicans are that the logo is great and that it actually fits the region and is something that could do a lot of good for a community constantly fighting back. Good job, Tom Benson.
Goran Dragic (PHX) — 18 pts, 8 assts
Shawn Marion (DAL) — 18 pts, 9 rebs, 5 assts
Phoenix Suns (15-29) vs. Dallas Mavericks (18-25)
There is still a fair amount of controversy regarding Phoenix's promotion of Lindsey Hunter to interim head coach after Alvin Gentry and the team decided to part ways. Dan Majerle and Elston Turner also resigned with Gentry after being passed over for Hunter. The reason? New York Daily News reports the reason might have been that Hunter was a little too cozy with management. The report says Hunter was removeed from practice because Gentry suspected Hunter was "spying" on him for management. Great way to start a relationship, right?
|L.A. Clippers||96||Pace: 91.0||105.5||54.9||21.1||13.1||11.0|
LaMarcus Aldridge (POR) — 21 pts, 11 rebs
Blake Griffin (LAC) — 23 pts, 9 assts
Portland Trail Blazers (22-21) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (32-13)
It has been really interesting watching Lamar Odom this year. After a season lost in his own discontent in Dallas, Odom has rediscovered himself somewhat in Los Angeles (again) for the Clippers. Sure his shooting percentage is not the best — 37.4 percent from the floor — and he is not scoring a lot. But Los Angeles has like what the team has seen from him. He is starting to regain some of his old form.