The (1-2) Los Angeles Lakers host the (1-1) New York Knicks in search of their first winning streak. L.A. got a much-needed & emphatic win against the Jazz on Wednesday night, although naysayers and critics of the purple and gold still are not convinced that this version of the Lakers can win consistently.
It is too early in the season to write anyone off with 63-games left to play. The Lakers are a work in progress and improving on a daily basis. The one thing that many of the critics have not noticed is that Mike Brown coached teams are excellent rebounding teams. Brown, a defensive-minded coach is bringing an east coast style of basketball to the west coast.
There are still individuals that would love to see the return of Showtime to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, those times have come and gone. Assessing the Lakers this season, it will not be pretty or glamorous, but it is a fact that when the system, executed properly, will be highly effective and L.A. will win games.
The Lakers swept last year’s season series against the Knicks (2-0) for the fourth consecutive year. L.A. is 8-2 in their last 10 games against the Knicks, winning eight straight. L.A. is 9-3 all-time against the Knicks at the Staples Center. The Lakers team that the Knicks will face tonight ranks 5th in the league in points allowed (86.3), 11th in rebounds (44.3), 14th in assists (20) and 20th in points scored (91.3).
The above-mentioned numbers have been attained without the services of Andrew Bynum.
The Knicks made a huge off-season acquisition in signing Center Tyson Chandler. Both Chandler and Baron Davis grew up and played locally in Los Angeles. Starting Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudmire and Tyson Chandler provides the Knicks with a talented front line. Despite this fact, New York has a thin bench, question marks at the guard positions and is in need of a third scorer.
The Knicks will start Toney Douglas at point guard; ironically, Douglas was the 29th overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft by Los Angeles. The Lakers need to do a solid job of defending the screen and roll play, control the tempo of the game and not allow the Knicks to run. The purple and gold have to take control of the ball and eliminate turnovers.
L.A.has to continue to play solid defense by making it a point that everyone get back in transition, stay in front of their men, out-rebound the Knicks and quickly rotate out to open shooters.
The Lakers need to establish Pau Gasol in the post, he has to be aggressive and attack the basket. Gasol could be limited dealing with the shoulder injury, but he has the skill level to draw fouls on Tyson Chandler or take him away from the basket and make him defend in space.
Kobe Bryant is doing a great job leading the Lakers on the floor and playing through pain, once again. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Bryant is leading the team in scoring. The Lakers are getting contributions from several sources, which is outstanding.
The purple and gold’s front line of Devin Ebanks, Josh McRoberts and Pau Gasol have to aggressive and battle the Knicks front line. The Lakers bench has to have an impact on this game and score 35+ points. The reserves need to knock down the open shots that will be available to them.
The Lakers have to continue to develop their young players. Their continued development will provide huge dividends down for this team now and in the future. It is amazing to notice rookie point guard Darius Morris not in uniform. Morris is a talented young point guard, an athlete on a team short on athletes.
Several people have said that the Lakers need more youth on the team, those people failed to recognize Andrew Bynum, Devin Ebanks, Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock and Josh McRoberts.
Josh McRoberts & Troy Murphy have been huge as low cost high reward veteran additions. These reserves are playing major minutes in the absence of Andrew Bynum. This is the last game of his four-game league mandated suspension. When Bynum returns to the lineup his impact will be immediate and he will become the Lakers much-needed third scorer. Bynum will help shore up the defense and return to his role of shot blocker, shot changer and mistake eraser.
Lakers:D. Fisher, K. Bryant, D.Ebanks, J. McRoberts, P.Gasol
Knicks: T. Douglas, L. Fields, C. Anthony, A. Stoudemire, T. Chandler
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: TNT
- New York: TNT
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
- New York: ESPN 1050 AM (John Andariese & Mike Chispino)
- Derrick Caracter (Torn Lateral Meniscus, Left Knee) Out
- Kobe Bryant (Torn Lunotriquetral Ligament, Right Wrist) Day-to-Day
- Pau Gasol (Sprained Right Shoulder) Day-to-Day
- Josh McRoberts (Sprained Left Thumb & Left Big Toe) Day-to-Day
- Matt Barnes (Bursitis, Left Hip) Day-to-Day
- Andrew Bynum (Suspension, game 4 of 4)
- Baron Davis (Herniated Disc in his Back) Out
- Mike Bibby (Back) Day-to-Day
- Jared Jeffries (Calf Injury) Day-to-Day