Pre-Game News and Notes
The New York Knicks will look to bounce back from a devastating loss Sunday to the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight. They will be opening up a five-game road trip against the Los Angeles Lakers and will look to get back on track with only 12 games remaining in the regular season. Here are some keys to tonight’s game for the Knicks to pull out a victory.
Match-up of the Game: J.R. Smith vs. Nick Young
The two enigmatic shooting guards have similar styles; they can shoot you into a victory as quickly as they shoot you out of one. This could possibly be the worst team in Lakers franchise history but Young delivers excitement for the fans almost as much as he delivers headaches. It sounds a lot like Smith, who has done the same for Knicks faithful this season. Both players will be matched up against each other through the night, and whoever plays better will give their team an edge. Both Smith and Young can be considered x-factors in the game tonight.
-Player News and Notes
There haven’t been any positive updates on Kenyon Martin or Andrea Bargnani for the Knicks. The only news coming from the Knicks is that neither player is close to retuning. It is safe to say the Knicks should not be counting on Martin or Bargnani for any contributions in the stretch run of the season.
For the Lakers, they will be without Pau Gasol again. Gasol has been in and out of the lineup all season, having one of the more difficult seasons in his career. With Gasol sidelined, Chris Kaman is expected to be inserted into the starting lineup. Xavier Henry should be back in the lineup for the Lakers tonight, giving them a little boost on the perimeter offensively.
-No Time for Letdown
The previous two games for the Knicks have been a microcosm of their season. They failed to put together a full game, resulting in an almost disastrous loss to the
Philadelphia 76ers Friday and an embarrassing loss Sunday to the Cavaliers after being up by 15 at halftime. Tonight the Knicks cannot afford another letdown and need to take advantage of the opportunity given to them. The Atlanta Hawks lost again last night, leaving the door open for the Knicks to cut into their lead for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks need to put together a full game on both ends of the court. It is imperative they get off to a good start on this west coast trip.
-Carmelo Getting On Track
The Knicks ultimately will go only as far as Carmelo Anthony can carry them. Unfortunately, Sunday he was unable to bring them to victory. Anthony started the game 6-7 from the field but missed 11 of his next 13 attempts, finishing the game 8-20. Tonight Anthony needs to shoot more efficiently and lead the Knicks offensively. The Lakers have no player capable of slowing down Anthony on paper, so getting off to a fast start would be nice. Anthony had a strong game in the first meeting with the Lakers, pouring in 35 points. An effort, near or matching, tonight from Anthony would go a long way in the Knicks getting a victory.
With no Gasol, the Lakers will rely on a perimeter attack to take down the Knicks. The Knicks have very little post game even when healthy, and let it fly from the perimeter as much as any team in the NBA. In the first meeting, both teams shot extremely well from the perimeter, combining for 22 three point makes on 49 attempts. Where the game was won was in the paint, where the Knicks outrebounded the Lakers 45-35. Without Gasol the Lakers will be thinner up front, and the Knicks must take advantage of the Lakers being without their best player.