After two road victories against the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors, the Los Angeles Lakers have dropped their last three games. With frustration at an all-time high, the Lakers face the New York Knicks in the final game of the Grammy road trip.
Although the Lakers have been able to score at least 100 points on the road, the defense has been non-existent. With Carmelo Anthony setting a new all-time scoring record at the Garden with 62 points on Friday, the Lakers will have their hands full.
Although New York has struggled, Carmelo Anthony has had a strong season that was highlighted by his 62-point performance against the Charlotte Bobcats. Despite four losses in the past five games, Anthony is doing his part by averaging 34.0 points and 11.2 rebounds.
Joining Anthony in the frontcourt are Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert. After an injury in the early part of the season, Chandler is still a solid player who is averaging close to his career numbers. In the past five games, the former Defensive Player of the Year is averaging 8.2 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks.
Since all the trade rumors during the off-season, Iman Shumpert has struggled the entire season. With so much potential, most thought this would be his breakout year, but Shumpert has not been able to put together a good string of games. After a 19 point and eight rebound performance against the Philadelphia 76ers, Shumpert followed it up with a four point and two rebound game in Friday’s win.
Injured for most of the season, Raymond Felton has struggled in his ninth season as he is averaging close to career-lows. Appearing in 27 games, Felton is averaging 10.7 points and 5.5 assists, but shooting 39.5 percent from the field. With New York struggling, many feel that the point guard position needs the most improvement.
While Pablo Prigioni starts, he plays limited minutes and is primarily in the lineup as another ball-handler for the Knicks. For the season, he is averaging 3.6 points and 3.1 assists on 41.3 percent shooting from three-point land.
Keys to Lakers Victory:
Carmelo Anthony: Coming off a 62-point performance, how will the Lakers defend Melo? Will they defend him one-on-one or force him to give up the ball? With the rest of the Knicks roster playing with no consistency, the Lakers should double-team Melo as soon as he catches the ball. Nobody on the Lakers can defend Melo one-on-one. They should force someone else on the Knicks roster to beat them.
Defensive Energy: While the Lakers have been able to score 100 points, the lack of players available has caught up with them for quite some time. In the final game of the road trip, the Lakers need to play with energy on both ends instead of conserving it on the most important side of the ball.
Limit Offensive Boards: The Lakers give up the most second-chance points in the NBA and the players are too concerned with getting out on the break. While this trend will likely continue, the backcourt players need to help the bigs rebound instead of waiting for the outlet pass. Ryan Kelly in particular will need to put a body on Melo and secure defensive rebounds. Another solution would be for D’Antoni to play Jordan Hill more since he is easily the team’s best rebounder.
Los Angeles Lakers (16-28) vs. New York Knicks (16-27)
12:30 PM PST, January 26, 2014
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Radio: ESPN LA 710
Knicks Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Raymond Felton
SG: Pablo Prigioni
SF: Iman Shumpert
PF: Carmelo Anthony
C: Tyson Chandler
Key Reserves: SG: J.R. Smith, SG: Tim Hardaway Jr., PF: Jeremy Tyler
Lakers Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Kendall Marshall
SG: Jodie Meeks
SF: Wesley Johnson
PF: Ryan Kelly
C: Pau Gasol
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