The Lakers were looking for their first winning streak of the season, but it did not come easy as they faced the revamped New York Knicks. The Knicks acquired defensive-savvy Tyson Chandler during the brief pre-season to bolster their roster, so the Lakers were in for a long night in the paint since they still were missing Andrew Bynum.
This game served as the Lakers’ fourth game in five nights, which is the most games of any team so far this season. The Lakers are obviously one of the older teams in the league so this series of consecutive games has taken a toll on their bodies. It showed throughout the night as most of the Laker players seemed sluggish on the floor and did not hustle for the ball.
Pau Gasol started off the game strong by scoring the first four points for the Lakers in the paint and continued the first quarter with great ball movement from the paint. Gasol was able to end the night with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists. Gasol is still suffering from a shoulder strain that he picked up during the Christmas day opener, so his offensive performance is a great sign that his health is improving.
One of the challenges for the Lakers was maintaining their foul control. The Knicks capitalized on the Lakers’ mistakes as they made 34 points of 41 attempts from the charity stripe and for a total of 82.9 percent for the game.
The Knicks were less aggressive in the paint during the first half, but they kept getting to the foul line. The Lakers have been pretty bad this season on the line as they have made just 75 percent from the charity strike leading up to this game, so this is something Mike Brown really needs to focus on during practice.
Even though the Lakers dominated the paint and got to the foul line as well, they were not as effective on the line in the game. The Lakers shot 63.6 percent at 14 for 22 in comparison to the Knicks’ 82.9 percent from the line. This is an area that the Lakers seriously need to improve on throughout the season because these points will count toward the end of the game, which was proven during the first game of the season.
Metta World Peace has grown into the leader of the Laker bench with his explosive offensive performances during the past three games, and he continued his effort against the Knicks. In the process, he has found a new offensive style that depends on post-up moves and drives in the paint. With his massive body size and nose for the basket, it makes perfect sense for him to limit his jump shots and camp underneath the basket.
Josh McRoberts showed his hops during the second quarter when he capitalized on a monster slam with a beautiful pass from Steve Blake. The Lakers have recently been criticized for being too old and ultimately lacking hustle, but the great effort by McRoberts and Troy Murphy has proven many of these opinions wrong. Once Bynum returns to the starting lineup, these two additions to the roster will become great sparks off the bench.
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