Here are a few things to keep an eye on during tonight’s Knicks-Kings game:
Playoff race: The Knicks, from Mike Woodson on down, say they are solely focused on making a push toward the playoffs. A win on Wednesday against the Kings would get them closer to a playoff spot. It would also send them into the All Star break with some positive vibes, a rarity for a team that is 11 games under .500.
A loss would fuel more speculation that Woodson is on the verge of losing his job.
New York enters play Wednesday 2 1/2 games behind eighth-place Charlotte in the East. A win tonight and a Nets win over the Bobcats would bring the Knicks within 1 1/2 with 30 games to play. Certainly a manageable deficit.
But the more coveted real estate in the conference is the sixth seed. A finish of sixth or higher virtually ensures that the Knicks will avoid a first-round matchup with Indiana or Miami.
New York is five games behind 6th-place Washington.
Bounce-back for Melo? Carmelo Anthony had a rare off game on Sunday against Oklahoma City. He had a season-low 15 points and missed 14 of 19 shots as he was draped for much of the afternoon by Kevin Durant.
In the eight games prior to that, Anthony averaged 33.6 points per game on 51 percent shooting. He also knocked down 44 percent of his threes.
It will be interesting to see what Carmelo does in the fourth quarter tonight if the game is still in doubt.
In his last two fourth quarters, Melo is 0-for-8 with just one point scored. On the season, Anthony’s career-low 36.7 percent in fourth quarter (79-215).
Maybe Anthony’s work load is a factor here. He’s leading the NBA in minutes per game (38.6).
Masked man: J.R. Smith suffered a small fracture in his left cheek bone on Sunday when his face hit Kevin Durant’s knee at the end of a drive in the second half. Smith was fitted with a face-mask and is expected to play against Sacramento.
He’s also looking to bounce back from a rough outing Sunday. Smith had just seven points against Oklahoma City. He had averaged 18.2 points on 46 percent shooting in the past 11 games.
King me: The Knicks play one of the eight teams with a worse record than they have on Wednesday.
Sacramento (17-35) has lost seven straight road games and shot just 41 percent from the field during that span.
Rudy Gay, in particular, has struggled. He’s totaled 19 points on 6-for-23 shooting in two games since returning from an Achillies injury, according to STATS, LLC.
Gay missed 17 of 21 shots in his most recent game at MSG on Feb. 13 as a member of the Raptors.
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