The New York Knicks travel to New Orleans to do battle with the Hornets on Friday night. Both teams enter the game fresh off wins. New York defeated the New Jersey Nets 111-100 Tuesday night at home in the Garden. New Orleans defeated the Charlotte Bobcats 89-73 at the Arena Wednesday night.
The Knicks have won 7 of their last 8 games and 5 of those wins came on the road. The recent success has enabled them to improve their record to 10-9 and hold down second place in the Atlantic Division. Big man Amare Stoudemire led the way for the Knicks scoring 35 points and pulling down 9 rebounds. The Nets' big man Brooke Lopez gave a valiant effort for the losing team. He scored 36 points, blocked 3 shots, and tallied 5 rebounds. This marks the latest date in a season since 2005 that the Knicks have been over .500. The turning point in the game happened midway through the third quarter when star guard Devin Harris went down with a knee injury. He was unable to perform and the Nets couldn't overcome his loss.
New Orleans had dropped 4 of 5 previous games coming into the home game against the Bobcats. The game was close throughout 39 minutes of the game. The Hornets went on an 18-4 run to pull away from the Bobcats at that point. The impressive team defense was the difference in the game. Offensively David West, Emeka Okafor, and Chris Paul were the main contributors. West led the way scoring 22, Okafor added 14 points and 13 board, and Chris Paul dished out 14 assists and chipped in 9 points.
The Knicks come into the game with 6 different players scoring 10+ points per game. Amare Stoudemire leads that list with 24.1. He is followed by Raymond Felton with 18.2 and Wilson Chandler with 16.8. New York is ranked 3rd in scoring in the NBA with 107 points per game. Their high scoring will be tested by the Hornets 2nd ranked defense. They give up 91.3 points per game. New York is a team built to last. The oldest player on the team is 30. The future looks bright for this young talented team. If head coach Mike D'Antoni can get them to gel and play as a unit, the future could be now.
One of, if not , the biggest surprises so far this year is the New Orleans Hornets. Before the season started rumors were flying all around about all star point guard being traded. He did not quiet the rumors. Instead, He expressed his frustrations of wanting to have more talent and harder working players around him. Paul talked and the front office listened. Eleven new faces are on the Hornets bench this season. Defensive specialist Trevor Ariza was one of the key off season acquisitions. His impact has helped lead the way for the Hornets in becoming one of the top defenses in the NBA. Marco Belinelli has been one of the bigger surprises. Before this season he had averaged 7.3 points per game and is averaging 12.1 thus far this season and has become a starter for the first time in his NBA career.