Los Angeles Lakers (15-11) at New York Knicks (11-15)
5:00 PM PST, February 10, 2012
Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
TV: KCAL, ESPN
Radio: 710 AM (English), 1330 AM (Spanish)
Knicks Projected Starting Line-Up:
PG: Jeremy Lin
SG: Landry Fields
SF: Bill Walker
PF: Jared Jeffries
C: Tyson Chandler
Key Reserves: G Iman Shumpert, F Steve Novak
A terrifying road trip is nearly over for the Lakers, who visit Madison Square Garden and the New York Knicks tonight. The trip started off with a close victory against the Nuggets, but was followed by back-to-back losses to the Jazz and 76ers, both games which the Lakers let get away in the later stages of the contest. Then came an epic addition to the greatest rivalry in the game, an 88-87 overtime win over the Celtics. After tonight’s game, the Lakers will go north of the border to Toronto before returning home on Tuesday to oppose the Hawks.
Frontcourt: The Lakers will have a generous advantage with both Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony missing tonight’s game. Stoudemire misses tonight’s game due to the death of his older brother. The team is 2-0 in his absence. He will return for the Knicks on Monday. Anthony is out with a groin injury that will set him back 1-2 weeks. He has missed just one game so far. Their replacements are Bill Walker and Jared Jeffries. In their first meeting, the Lakers tore apart the Knicks 99-82. Walker played 17 minutes and scored just one point. He is a very streaky player that can score at will when on fire. In his last two games, he is shooting 6-for-20, or 30% good for 16 total points and 11 rebounds. Jeffries has played an even smaller scoring role, scoring 15 points in the two games, seven from the charity stripe. He did not see any playing time against the Lakers. Jeffries is typically good for about four points a game. Then there is the always reliable Tyson Chandler, who without the team’s two stars is taking charge of a good part of the team’s production. Chandler has nine double-doubles this season. He is more likely to rack up double-digit rebounds rather than points. However, as the lone true big man in tonight’s rotation, expect bettered production from Tyson.
Backcourt: For 23 games, the Knicks had perhaps a diamond in the rough, or in this case on the bench. But, he has been let loose over the past three games, where he has scored 74 points. His name is Jeremy Lin, a Taiwanese player from Palo Alto and of the Ivy League school Harvard. Lin is quite the gifted shooter, and will look to continue his hot streak as he takes minutes from Iman Shumpert. That is not to say that Shumpert has been playing poorly, coach Mike D’Antoni just feels that he has gotten better production out of the duo with this current setup. Shumpert is quite dangerous off of the bench. He will still see about the same amount of time as Lin. Give or take about 35 minutes. Their running mate Landry Fields has bounced back from a slow start to the season, which included a five point effort on 2-of-7 shooting against the Lakers. In 11 of his first 13 games this season, he did not score in double-digits. However, in the 13 games since, he has posted 10 points or more in 10 games. Still, his production has been in line with his numbers from his rookie season. Expect about 10 points from him tonight, and several three-point attempts from his hand. He makes about one-in-three.
- The Lakers lead the overall series against the Knicks by a margin of 163-111. They are 1-0 against the Knicks this season, which includes a 99-82 victory on December 29, 2011. The Lakers have won nine straight against New York.
- Kobe Bryant has scored 366 points in 12 games at Madison Square Garden, an average 30.5 points per game. This includes a 61-point performance on 2/2/09.
- Jeremy Lin is one of five players in NBA history to have 20+ points and 8+ assists in each of his first two starts since the merger. The others are LeBron James (CLE), Greg Anthony (NYK), Negele Knight (PHX) and Billy McKinney (KC).
Keys to a Laker Victory:
– Feed the Bigs
Bill Walker is not a forward, but a guard. Jared Jeffries is quite fragile. All the pressure will be on Tyson Chandler, which he can handle quite well. But just how much of it can be handled? Feed Pau and Andrew often to tire their unit.
– Watch the Point
Jeremy Lin is most certainly the flavor of the week. He is going to continue to score, and could get out of hand. As seen with Louis Williams the other night, it only takes one player, even if it is off of the bench. Iman Shumpert is not the scorer Williams is, but provides just as much of a spark off of the bench. If one does not get you, the other one will.
– Remember Kobe’s Garden Success
The New York Knicks cannot stand Kobe Bryant on their home court. He always seems to do something spectacular. Good thing he is a Laker, right?
Best-Case Prediction: Lakers 97, Knicks 81
Worst-Case Prediction: Knicks 103, Lakers 99