New Orleans Hornets vs. New York Knicks Preview and Pick – Point Spread

New Orleans Hornets (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. New York Knicks (0-3 SU, 0-3 ATS), 7:30 p.m. EST, Monday, November 2, 2009, Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.
by Ryno of

Point Spread: Hornets -2.5/Knicks +2.5
Over/Under: 204.5

Chris Paul and the Hornets invade Madison Square Garden as the Knicks look for their first win and cover of the season. The Hornets picked up their first cover in a 10-point loss to the Celtics on Sunday after picking up their only win thus far in a five-point home victory over the Kings. The Knicks are coming off a 141-127 overtime loss to the Sixers on Saturday.

CP3 is most definitely the best point guard in the NBA. He carries the Hornets on a daily basis. He is averaging 26.3 points and 7.0 assists in the three games this season. But he needs other players on his team to step up and score points. Paul will set them up with beautiful passes, but he can’t run the offense and score all of the points himself. Two of the New Orleans starters – Morris Peterson and Julian Wright – have combined for a total of 43 points in three games. Paul has almost doubled that himself. David West has been a solid second scoring option for the Hornets over his career. He has averaged over 20 points per game in each of the last two seasons, but West is scoring less than 14 per game so far this season. Emeka Okafor replaced Tyson Chandler as the team’s center. He is a strong defensive player down low, despite being three inches shorter than Chandler at 6-foot-10. Okafor is averaging 11 rebounds to go along with his 13 points per game. His scoring should go up this season with Paul passing him the ball. Peja Stojakovic is one of the best scorers for the Hornets, but he is coming off the bench this season. He started slow in the first two games, but he led the Hornets with 26 points in the loss to the Celtics, including 6-for-10 from 3-point range.

As a team, the Hornets need to score more points, as they have yet to reach 100 points in a game. Meanwhile, the Knicks have allowed over 100 points in each of their three games, so this might be the game that the Hornets finally break 100.

As expected, the Knicks are struggling so far this season. They nearly pulled out a win over the Sixers on Saturday, but lost in overtime. Al Harrington came off the bench and scored 42 points for the Knicks. Danilo Gallinari had a breakout game with 30 points, including an 8-for-16 mark from beyond the arc. But those were the only two players really scoring for the Knicks. Larry Hughes had 18 points, but Wilson Chandler only had 11, David Lee had nine, Chris Duhon had seven, and Jared Jeffries went scoreless. The Knicks also lost to the Bobcats, a team that only scored 59 points the game before that against the Celtics.

Harrington and Gallinari are leading the team in scoring right now, both with over 20 points per game. Chandler has 13.7 points per game, and Lee is averaging 16 points and 10.7 rebounds.

The Knicks have not been looking good on defense. They will have to figure out a way to stop Paul from penetrating through their defense. Lee can guard either West or Okafor, but he can’t guard both. Whichever one Lee is not guarding may be open throughout the game and get some easy looks courtesy of Paul’s passes.

The Hornets played in Boston on Sunday and are now traveling to New York to play for a second day in a row. Last season, the Hornets were 0-7 ATS when they played a road game after covering the spread the day before. That trend does not bode well for the Hornets. The Knicks won both of the matchups last season between these two teams, 101-95 in New Orleans and 103-93 in New York. The Knicks are 0-3 ATS this season and all three of their games have gone over.

Ryno’s Pick: If the Knicks couldn’t defend Lou Williams and the Sixers and Raymond Felton and the Bobcats, then they certainly won’t have much success defending Paul and the Hornets. The Knicks have been able to score some points because they like to run, but they are not a good defensive team. The Hornets have been struggling offensively, but they are a good team. They just have to find their rhythm, and this may be the game to do so offensively. The over is a strong play here with all of the running that these teams will be doing, combined with New York’s poor defense. But it’s too hard to pass on an 0-7 ATS trend from last season. Take the Knicks.