The Knicks will be taking their talents to the Staples Center, to challenge Kobe Bryant and the old, underachieving Los Angeles Lakers, to try and go above .500.
The Knicks are coming off a solid two-point victory over the Celtics on Christmas (who were without star Paul Pierce), behind 20 points in the fourth quarter by Carmelo Anthony, followed by a lackluster effort, which led to a 92-78 loss on Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors, who were without the prolific Stephen Curry.
Los Angeles has started the season with a 1-2 record. They lost by one to the Chicago Bulls on Christmas, which is not that surprising, considering the Bulls are one of three teams with a realistic chance of making it out of the Eastern Conference. They ended their three games in three nights with a loss in Sacramento to the Kings and a dominating win over the Jazz at the Staples Center.
The Lakers are without Phil Jackson, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum who was suspended for the first four games of the season after an altercation with JJ Barea in the playoffs, but New York will need to drastically improve their overall effort if they want to come away with a win. LA is not the team they were last season, but they still have Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, Derek Fisher and Troy Murphy, who is known for this 3-point shooting and rebounding.
The key for the Knicks tonight in front of all of the celebrities in LA is to limit the amount of points the Lakers’ score in transition. That has hurt them the first two games. They also need improved play out of Tyson Chandler, who has helped, but has not been the imposing overall presence that he was with Dallas last season. They could use some more scoring and rebounding from him.
However, two things stand out regarding what the Knicks need to accomplish against the Lakers:
1. They need to play defense the whole game, not slack off for five-minute stretches.
2. They need improved point guard play, since Toney Douglas is a solid player, but has not worked so far as the point guard. He is more of a shooting guard or a backup point guard.
Iman Shumpert, is a rookie who has impressed with his play so far, but will likely be out about two or three more weeks, because of an MCL injury, so Mike Bibby and the newly signed Jeremy Lin deserve a lot of playing time at the point. They are different point guards, but they can both get the job done. Bibby is over the hill, but can still pass the ball and make jumpers. Lin deserves a chance for his penetrating ability, in addition to his hustle and ability to find open teammates.
The Knicks obviously need to contain Bryant and Gasol, but if they can play defense for the whole game, prevent the Lakers from scoring easy fast break points and pass the ball on offense they can definitely beat the Lakers.