Knicks need to start and finish strong at home

The Knicks at home and on the road are basically the same struggling defensive team. They allow 104.1 points at home and 109.1 on the road. The main difference has been how the team opens and closes out games on offense at home versus on the road. On the road, the Knicks have been scoring in bunches in the first and second quarters, which has helped them maintain their lead throughout the game -- even though they let a couple of teams see some daylight towards the end, especially the Timberwolves, who came back from a 21-point deficit to beat them.

At home, though, the Knicks have started and finished games slowly, and they are now tied with the Kings for the lowest number of home wins in the league (two). This is evident by the Knicks' poor offensive output; their field goal, three-point and free throw makes all rank in the bottom third of the league. On the flip side, the Knicks on the road are first in field goals (904), first in three-pointers (111) and first in free throws (267).

The trend for the Knicks at home has been shooting too much too early and not moving the ball, heating up in the second and third quarters in transition, but then going dry in the fourth quarter by playing sloppy and stagnant in halfcourt sets. Of course, defensive lapses have been an issue too. In losses to the Blazers, Sixers and Warriors, they got outscored in the last period by jacking up threes, getting no dribble-drive penetration and not running the pick-and-roll effectively. Last week, they almost let the Bobcats come back and win, getting outscored 32-21 in the fourth and on Saturday against the Hawks, they outscored them 28-19 in the third, but then tied them 24-24 in the fourth. "We haven't played well at home," team president Donnie Walsh said (New York Post). "Mentally, on the road, you know you have to be at your best. When you're home you may let down a bit. Whatever it is, we have to find the answer to it to make this our home court. Because we have one of the best home courts in the league and haven't taken advantage of it." The Knicks had their best fourth quarter at home against the Wizards on November 5, outscoring them 31-18 and going on to win. Now that the Knicks have momentum off their recent 6-1 record, especially by Raymond Felton and Amare Stoudemire playing together better and setting the offensive tone for the team, that should help them going into tonight's home game against the Nets.

Knicks notes:

  • Walsh returned to practice yesterday for the first time since his hip surgery on November 16. "I feel good," he said (New York Daily News). "It's good to be back at practice. We haven't had a lot of practices here, haven't missed a lot of practices and I liked what I've seen on TV with the team since I've been out ... I think they are grasping our style, so they are playing better."

  • What a shocker: The Knicks-Nets game menu for tonight includes a side Carmelo Anthony dish. A new theory, as reported by the New York Post, says that "the Nuggets brass is waiting until February to trade Anthony to the Nets to assure Newark's finest first-round draft pick this June will be a lottery selection." The deal would also include rookie Derrick Favors. Across the river, the Knicks are considered long shots because they can't trade a first-round pick until 2014.

  • Also on the menu tonight includes a special ceremony honoring five-year-old Queens native Sayam Kamal, who helped save the lives of five people from a house fire that broke out in his home earlier this month. From the Knicks: "After realizing the house was on fire, Sayam found a contractor working to outfit the home for his father (who suffers from Lou Gehrig's disease), and told him to call 911. He then proceeded to get the attention of his brother, sleeping grandmother and uncle, and another contractor, to warn them about the fire and aid in evacuating everyone to safety." The Knicks will honor Kamal with the Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award, named after the first African-American to play for the team. The Kamal family will also receive a $2,000 donation to help rebuild their home and aid in costs while the family is displaced.

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