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Top Scorers and the Knicks

This week's Give and Go -- written mostly while Kobe Bryant was scoring 61 at Madison Square Garden -- gave at least one reader the impression that I was downplaying the achievement because it came against D'Antoni's defensively-challenged squad.

That reader correctly pointed out that Kobe is the first player to even top 40 against New York this season.

And that got me to thinking...

Obviously, the Knicks give up a lot of points -- 106.48 per game, to be exact; only Golden State, Sacramento and Indiana allow more scoring. And though the Knicks' fast pace is a factor, it's not the only factor -- New York opponents are shooting .475 on the season, which is tied with Washington for third-worst in the league (Sacramento and Memphis opponents are shooting better than 48% from the floor on the year).

So if the Knicks give up more points that just about every other team, that means top scorers must go off when they play New York, right?

Apparently not.

Here's a look at the league's top ten scorers, and how they've fared when facing the Knicks this year:

scoring averageavg vs. NYKgames vs. NYK
Dwyane Wade28.5261
LeBron James2823.52
Kobe Bryant27.444.52
Dirk Nowitzki25.824.52
Danny Granger25.520.52
Kevin Durant25251
Kevin Martin24n/a0
Chris Bosh23n/a0
Al Jefferson22.9211
Brandon Roy22.2231
Outside of Kobe's 61... every one of those top scorers has been held at or below his season average.

Why would that be? A couple of theories spring to mind:

- Maybe D'Antoni's teams do a reasonable job of defending the opposition's key scorer -- and it's the secondary options that kill the Knicks. (New York has had some success, for example, throwing Jared Jeffries at the opposition's lead guard.)
- Maybe some of these scoring totals are artificially low because some of these guys were pulled during blowouts.

This merits additional research.

So yes, Kobe's 61 is absolutely impressive -- regardless of the opposition. But the record could also be short-lived... I don't think there's any doubt that LeBron -- who visits the Garden tonight -- could have a similar performance if the conditions were right.

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