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Nets come home to face Knicks

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NBA: Charlotte Hornets at New York Knicks Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

At least January’s over. The Brooklyn Nets wrapped up their three game road trip with a game in Miami on Monday night. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t break out of their slump and lost 104-96. Two weeks to go until the All Star Break.

The opponent tonight will be the New York Knicks. Despite all the drama surrounding them, they’re still within striking distance of a playoff spot. This is night two of a back-to-back for the Knickerbockers. They lost to the Wizards in DC last night.

Where to follow the game

Double coverage tonight. YES and MSG Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM and ESPN 98.7 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.

Injuries

No Jeremy Lin but Joe Harris is probable. Everyone else is healthy.

Derrick Rose was seen walking around with a boot yesterday so it seems like he’ll be out for this game. Kristaps Porzingis missed the game yesterday with an illness and his status for this one is unknown. Lance Thomas suffered an orbital fracture earlier this month and has been out ever since.

The game

The Knicks won the first game back in November.

In off the court news, while LeBron was roasting Charles Barkley, he managed to get a few more shots in at Phil Jackson. I’m guessing Phil has an understanding of how Chino XL felt when he heard “Hit Em Up” for the first time.

With Rose out, Brandon Jennings will start at point guard for Jeff Hornacek’s club. He’s always faced questions about his decision making, and this year has been no exception. He’s turned the ball over 18.9 percent of the time this season, the highest rate of his career. On the other side, the Nets point guard duo of Spencer Dinwiddie and Isaiah Whitehead have been sloppy with the ball as well. We’ve spent the past month and change talking about the horrible Nets defense, and their turnover issues play a part in their struggles on that end. Brooklyn is second in turnover rate and first in opponent’s points off of turnovers. If you already have trouble stopping people, turning the ball over and allowing teams to have the advantage going the other way makes your job even harder.

Former Net Courtney Lee is doing well. He got benched for a brief spell, but he’s managed to hold on to the shooting guard position. He’s 12th in the league in three point percentage, making a career high 41.8 percent of his three pointers. Having a shooter like Lee helps space things out, now it’s just a matter of having a healthy roster around him so the Knicks can make the most out of it.

The duo of Joakim Noah and Wily Hernangomez will be assigned to Brook Lopez. Lopez is coming off a miserable game on Monday and will need a better effort tonight. Lopez has had a good season all things considered, but could stand to be a bit more consistent. He’s their best player, and when you’re the best on the team, you have to do more to help them win.

Player to watch: Carmelo Anthony

Y’all don’t give Melo the respect he deserves. He’s been getting harangued by the press and management all season, but he’s gone out there and been the team’s best scorer. He’s averaging 23 points and six rebounds on 43 percent shooting from the field. More importantly, he’s been turning the ball over at a career low rate. Even though he’s approaching his mid 30s, Melo can still help your team and if there’s a team that feels they’re one piece away from getting to the Finals, maybe Melo is their man. In his recap of the Knicks’ four overtime slog against the Hawks, Harrison Rahajason wrote something that really stood out to me:

It also begs the question: Where in the world does Melo find the motivation to play like that? He’s on a team that is nearing double-digit games below .500, and whose front office is actively looking to trade him. Given that he has repeatedly expressed his desire not to be traded, this is not the type of situation where he wants to look good for potential suitors.

He’s a franchise player, a Hall of Famer and dammit he deserves better. I’m not saying I would like to see him traded because in all honesty, that would make me very sad. He’s meant a lot to the Knicks, and for a very short but very sweet period of time, he made New York basketball relevant for the first time in a while.

The Knicks are gonna miss Melo when he’s gone.

For all of his great qualities, Melo’s defense has never been excellent and this season has been no exception. For Bojan Bogdanovic, that should be a cue for him to look for his shots early and often. The Knicks are a bit thin, so if Bogdanovic can get Melo in early foul trouble, it’ll take away New York’s best player and improve Brooklyn’s chances of getting the win.

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