Charlotte Bobcats (17-54) at New York Knicks (44-26), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The New York Knicks have a seemingly grueling stretch on
the horizon, but should have an easy time with the Charlotte Bobcats Friday at
Madison Square Garden,
After the Knicks host the Bobcats, the worst team in the NBA, they are
scheduled to engage in battle with Boston, Miami, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Oklahoma
City, Washington and Chicago. All those squads, save the improved Wizards, are
headed to the playoffs.
New York is third in the East -- one-half game behind Indiana -- and posted
its sixth win in a row Wednesday in a 108-101 triumph over the defensive-
minded Memphis Grizzlies. J.R. Smith scored a game-high 35 points off the
bench and Carmelo Anthony finished with 22 points for the Knicks, who opened a
three-game homestand and won its fourth straight as the host.
The Knicks shot 51.4 percent and scored 21 points off 17 turnovers. Coach Mike
Woodson noted how important it is for his team to keep playing well during the
final stages of the regular season.
"It's coming down the stretch run and every game is important, and we're
playing that way," Woodson said. "That's how it should be at this stage of the
season. There's a lot of things at stake."
Playoff positioning is still at stake for the Knicks, who could either take
over the second spot or drop to as low as sixth barring a major meltdown. New
York has won five or more consecutive games on three occasions this season and
owns a 25-10 record at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks will close the homestand Sunday versus the rival Celtics. Center
Tyson Chandler is doubtful Friday with a back and knee issue, and has missed
the last eight games.
Charlotte has given upper echelon teams fits on certain occasions this season
and will begin a three-game road trip against the Knicks. The Bobcats, losers
of eight straight away from home, will also make stops in Philadelphia and
Milwaukee. They are 6-29 as the guest and 5-15 on the road against the East.
The Bobcats, though, have won three of five games overall, including
Wednesday's 114-108 victory over the Orlando Magic. Kemba Walker and Gerald
Henderson led the charge with 34 points apiece and both made at least 12 shots
from the floor. Walker was 13-of-23 shooting and Henderson sank 12 of his 18
attempts for Charlotte, which shot 51.8 percent and got 11 points from Bismack
Walker and Henderson became the third duo in team lore to score 30 or more
points in a game. Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace did it back in 2010,
while Boris Diaw and Wallace achieved the feat in 2009.
The effort pleased Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap.
"I saw a lot of heart from our team, especially this time of the year when you
have no shot at the playoffs," Dunlap said. "Our whole theme has been to
improve and let our fans and everyone know that we're still fully engaged."
Charlotte erased a 19-point deficit, which was the largest margin to overcome
in a win this season and matched the third-largest hole to battle back from in
a win in franchise history.
The Bobcats are averaging 101.6 points per game in the previous five and sport
a .454 field goal percentage over that stretch. Henderson is averaging 22.6
ppg in the past 10 games and Walker has an average of 26.3 ppg in the last
Walker had a game-best 25 points and 11 assists in a 100-98 home loss to the
Knicks on Dec. 5 this season. Anthony recorded 23 points in that one for New
York, which scored 23 points off turnovers and is 8-2 in the previous 10
meetings between the teams. Charlotte has lost 10 of the 14 matchups at
Madison Square Garden.
The two teams will meet again April 15 in Charlotte.
03/29 10:45:31 ET
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