BUCKS AT KNICKS, 7:30 P.M. ET

TV: League Pass

  • Knicks guard Jason Kidd will start tonight after sitting out Wednesday’s 113-97 win over the Orlando Magic with a sore lower back. Kidd’s back pain began against the Boston Celtics on Jan. 24, subsided the following day and returned on Saturday at the Philadelphia 76ers. Against the Sixers, Kidd played just 14 minutes and shot 0-for-3 from the field. Now that Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert are back from injury, head coach Mike Woodson is looking to keep Kidd’s minutes in the range of 20-25 minutes. He could’ve played the other night, but we just decided to let him rest,” Woodson said during his pregame media availability. “He’s put in a lot minutes during Raymond’s absence, 30-plus minutes a game, that’s just too many minutes for him. Now that Raymond’s back, I can kind of go back to how we’re playing early in the season.
  • Woodson said on Wednesday before the Magic game that the team’s stated goal heading into the All-Star break is to 9-2. After Wednesday’s win, they are 3-1 in this final stretch before the All-Star break, which will end of Feb. 13 against the Toronto Raptors. Going 9-2 appears doable as the have winnable games coming at home against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday and Detroit Pistons on Monday. They are also at the Washington Wizards on Wednesday and at the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. “We started a goal a week ago when we had 11 ball games before the break,” Woodson said pregame on Wednesday. “We wanted to try to come out of that 9-2, and then come back after the break and start the final run. We’re on pace, we’re right where we need to be.”
  • In his new role off the bench, Knicks power forward Amar’e Stoudemire has flourished since returning from knee surgery on Jan. 1. In 13 games, he is averaging 12.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in 22.3 minutes. In his last five games, the 11th-year pro is averaging 16.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and is shooting a gaudy 67.4 percent from the field. Wednesday may have been his best effort yet as he shot 7-for-7 from the field, and finished with 14 points in just 20 minutes of action.
  • Woodson reiterated that while he would rather not play either player to the limit, Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert are both still limited to 30 minutes. Shumpert will play in his seventh game this season after undergoing ACL surgery last spring. The most minutes Stoudemire has played in a game is 29 on Sunday against the Atlanta Hawks, while Shumpert saw 27 minutes back on Jan. 24 against Boston Celtics.
  • The Bucks are coming of a 104-88 home loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday evening. The defeat dropped them to 8-4 under interim head coach and Jersey City native Jim Boylan, who replaced Scott Skiles on Jan. 8 after he and the team mutually agreed to part ways. The Bucks enter the night 24-20 overall, good for seventh-place in the Eastern Conference, two and a half games clear of eighth-place and five and a half games clear of ninth.
  • Bucks power forward Larry Sanders, the NBA leader in total blocks and blocks per game, traveled with the team and will play this evening after missing Wednesday’s loss due to illness. Averaging a league-best 3.07 blocks per game, Sanders has swatted at least one shot in 30 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NBA. He has also blocked three or more shots in 18 of his last 27 appearances.
  • Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings, who was infamously bypassed by by the Knicks and then-President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh in the 2009 NBA Draft, is averaging 20.1 points per game for his career against the Knicks.

–Josh Newman

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