Charlotte Hornets center Dwight Howard is expected to play Tuesday night against the New York Knicks, but could be limited by soreness from a right foot sprain.
Howard, third in the NBA in rebounding at 13.8 per game, participated only partially in shootaround Tuesday morning at Madison Square Garden. He did the walk-through, but not the running portions of the hour-long session.
Coach Steve Clifford said he still anticipates Howard being probable to play. The Hornets are looking to break a two-game losing streak (at San Antonio Friday, at Minnesota Sunday). This is the third of a four-game road trip, ending Friday in Boston.
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The Knicks have the NBA’s second-leading scorer in forward Kristaps Porzingis at 30.2 points per game. As was the case last season, Hornets forward Marvin Williams will draw the first defensive assignment on Porzingis. Frank Kaminsky and Cody Zeller are the other options to guard him, Clifford said.
“They’re able to go to him more now the way they’re playing offensively,” Clifford said of the the Knicks, who traded Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder before the season. “”He was terrific before, but preparing for him, there are more different ways he gets the ball.
Porzingis is shooting 50 percent from the field this season, and 36 percent from 3-point range.
A Latvian, Porzingis is a classic European-style player: A big man at 7-3, but taught guard-type skills at an early age. Clifford said Europe is better for big men in that regard than American youth basketball is.
“In Europe, when they’re young, it’s all 3-on-3 or 3-on-0” drills, Clifford said. “They teach you how to play, the fundamentals. Unfortunately, we’ve become the AAU country: (Youth) playing 5-on-5, with very little structure and very little purpose of play.”
Defense on Walker
Hornets All-Star point guard Kemba Walker has had back-to-back poor shooting performances on this trip: A combined 8-of-27 from the field (1-of-11 from 3-point range) for a total of 21 points versus the Spurs and Timberwolves.
He is drawing special attention from defenses, after averaging 29 points on 30-of-52 shooting in the three games prior to this trip.
“A lot of double-teams, which he’s done a good job with,” Clifford described.. “A lot more switching, where they put more size (guarding) him. And a lot of teams match up with their best perimeter defender on him.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell