New York Knicks: Keys To Defeating The New Orleans Pelicans

Mar 28, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) reacts against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Knicks 99-91. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks will look to bounce back from a two-game losing streak by defeating the New Orleans Pelicans. What are the keys to victory?


On Friday, December 30, the New York Knicks will have an opportunity to secure a record above .500 entering the new year. At 16-15 with two games remaining before January 1, the Knicks will either enter 2017 on a high note or lose all sight of momentum.

Winning on December 30 will be no easy task, as the Knicks will travel to the Smoothie King Center to take on Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans.

With no hyperbole whatsoever, the Knicks are in dire need of a victory. Their past two losses have come in devastating fashion, featuring a 102-98 overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks and a 119-114 loss to the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day.

With a tough New Year’s Eve game against the Houston Rockets looming, defeating New Orleans may be the Knicks’ best opportunity to finish 2016 above .500.

Having said that, one shouldn’t mistake the 13-21 Pelicans with an easy team to defeat. New Orleans has won four of its past five games and is just now getting healthy after playing extended periods of time without Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans.

If the New York Knicks are going to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans and improve to 17-15, then they must execute in these five critical areas.

Dec 28, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) looks to shoot while guarded by Atlanta Hawks guard Malcolm Delaney (5) during the first half at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

5. Derrick Rose

New York Knicks starting point guard Derrick Rose is approaching one of the most important games of his NBA career. He’s coming off of a heartbreaking performance during which he, “F-ing slipped,” and lost the ball on a clutch play.

Rose can either bounce back and achieve a measure of redemption against the New Orleans Pelicans or he can let that showing break him.

Rose enters the New Orleans game averaging 17.4 points, 4.4 assists, and 4.1 rebounds on 45.1 percent shooting from the field, He’s playing and producing at a borderline star-caliber rate, which includes back-to-back games with at least 25 points.

The New Orleans Pelicans won’t make it easy for Rose to step up and produce, but he’ll need to do exactly that.

Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, and E’Twaun Moore are all capable of making it difficult for Rose to play well. They’ll force Rose to defend at a high level and call on him to be more efficient with his drives and jump shot.

Rose is coming off of a tough end to an otherwise excellent showing, but he’ll need to step up and shake that tough showing.

Dec 28, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) controls a rebound against the Atlanta Hawks during the second half at Philips Arena. The Hawks defeated the Knicks 102-98 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

4. Defensive Rebounding

From a statistical perspective, the New York Knicks are one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA. New York ranks No. 3 in the NBA in both rebounds per game and offensive rebounds per game, and has a positive rebound differential.

Unfortunately, the Knicks are also the worst team in the Association at keeping the opposition off of the defensive glass.

New York is allowing a league-worst 12.1 offensive rebounds per game. The Knicks are also No. 29 in the NBA with 15.1 second chance points allowed per game, which creates the fear that they’ll allow extra possessions every time out.

Against a team with the offensive firepower that the New Orleans Pelicans possess, the Knicks must limit Anthony Davis and Co. to one shot per possession.

The encouraging news is that New Orleans ranks No. 29 in the Association with just 8.6 offensive rebounds per game. The discouraging news is that Davis is a force of nature who can take over games in any number of ways.

New York must box out and be wary of the possibility that the Pelicans will gut the defense by crashing the offensive glass.

Dec 28, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) defends during the second half of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Clippers 102-98. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

3. Ball Movement

The New York Knicks moved the ball relatively well against the Atlanta Hawks, but they abandoned that approach late in the game. With Atlanta creating for one another and finding the open man, the Knicks resorted to isolation basketball.

The result was a 102-98 overtime loss, which could have been prevented with better ball movement and execution down the stretch.

Entering the New Orleans Pelicans game, the Knicks are 15-6 when they record at least 20 assists and 1-9 when they fail to. That’s a telling enough sign of how valuable ball movement is to New York’s offensive execution.

There are a number of gifted isolation scorers on the Knicks’ roster, but as is the case with every team, the offense is more efficient when the ball isn’t sticking.

New Orleans currently ranks No. 8 in the NBA with an average of 22.9 assists per game. The Pelicans average 54.1 points created via assists, which significantly lightens the burden for isolation and transition scorers.

New Orleans is going to move the ball well with its surplus of playmakers, which means New York will need to do the same.

Nov 15, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) shoots over New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

2. Kristaps Porzingis vs. Anthony Davis

If ever there were a matchup to be called must-see TV, a battle between Anthony Davis and Kristaps Porzingis would be it. Both are physical marvels who are redefining what it means to be a great big man.

Davis is further along in his development than Porzingis, but both players are capable of putting on a show on Friday.

The New Orleans Pelicans can drop the ball down low to Anthony Davis and let him go to work. He’s lethal from the high post, can attack his man off the bounce, and is more than capable of dominating opponents as a scorer.

The proof of that is the fact that Davis is averaging 29.3 points per game—good for No. 2 in the NBA behind just Russell Westbrook.

Porzingis is an outstanding scorer in his own right with the same versatility as Davis and superior 3-point range. He’s not quite as polished as Davis, however, which means the Knicks will need to set him up with well-timed passes.

Porzingis will need to execute on his own at critical stages of the game, but the team will need to create for him.

Dec 28, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder (17) is defended by center Joakim Noah (13) during the overtime at Philips Arena. The Hawks defeated the Knicks 102-98 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

1. Defense

The New York Knicks are an abysmal defensive team and the New Orleans Pelicans have a number of explosive playmakers. That’s a recipe for disaster, especially when one considers how poorly the Knicks’ defense has performed on the road.

If New York is going to improve to 17-15 with a win over New Orleans, then the defense will need to step up in a critical way.

New York is allowing 109.7 points allowed per game on a slash line of .450/.358/.760 during road games. That’s a primary reason why it’s 5-10 on the road and 11-5 at home, which is the formula for failure.

Against a team with the likes of Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans, Tim Frazier, Langston Galloway, and Jrue Holiday, the Knicks will need to defend at a high level.

New Orleans has scored at least 100 points in 10 of its past 11 games. There’s a high probability that the Pelicans will succeed in doing so against the Knicks, although the most recent outing implies that the results stand to improve.

New York held the Atlanta Hawks to 85 points in regulation, although it let up 17 points during the overtime period alone.

As has been the case throughout the 2016-17 NBA regular season, the Knicks have been living and dying by their defensive performances.

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