New York native Jay-Z made an appearance at Staples Center on Sunday meeting mixed emotions from the crowd. Tonight the New York Knicks come to Staples for their lone appearance of the the year, minus Jay-Z, and will have very few fans in the house (except for Spike Lee of course). The Lakers (10-3) are winners of three straight, all of which by double digits, while the Knicks (3-10) dropped their last contest to the Celtics in Boston. The last time these two teams faced off was a historic night in New York, Pau Gasol dropped in 31 points, however Kobe Bryant’s 60 point game was the real story as he broke the all time Madison Square Garden scoring record.
The Knicks are seemingly still adjusting to coach D’Antoni’s system, and frankly, I’m not sure if they have the horses he needs, or would like, in order to facilitate the style of basketball he coaches. Chris Duhon is no Steve Nash, and while they are undersized and likely faster than most in the front court, the talent level will continue to limit their success. The Knicks begin a west coast road trip tonight, playing 3 games in 4 days against LA, Sacramento and Denver, which could mean two or three quick losses. Two of the Knicks three wins on the season did come on the road, yet against the likes of Indiana and a still winless New Jersey. The Lakers on the other hand have been blowing out opponents at Staples Center, and look to continue the trend tonight with an ever improving Pau Gasol, circus shot making Kobe Bryant, under appreciated Andrew Bynum, and recently exposed Ron Artest! The Lakers have the Association on notice that they are still the Champs, and any road to the trophy in 2010 will go through them. Here are a few things to watch for tonight:
- The Candy Man’s Impact: Lamar Odom has been unimpressive since returning to the bench, logging only 13 points, 13 rebounds 4 assists and 4 turnovers in the last two games. The return of Pau Gasol prompted much excited for the starting lineup, however the impact on the bench was a key factor as well. Gasol has done his part putting up impressive numbers for the starters, however Lamar has yet to show leadership within the bench mob. The Lakers depth should be one of their biggest strengths, yet recently has seemed like nothing more than a house of cards. Odom is the foundation, how soon it will take for him to solidify back in his previous role is the real question.
- Points in the Paint: The Lakers have managed to score 60 points in the paint during each of their past two games with Pau Gasol helping Bynum anchor the middle. Continuing this trend will mean that the team is beginning to truly understand the advantage their two seven footers have down low. Chicago players made comments that it was if the two big men were “playing volleyball” with each other until the ball went in, and against most teams there is no reason they shouldn’t have a hand near most rebounds.
- A Spike Lee Joint: Kobe Bryant and director Spike Lee have one of those love, hate relationships. Both are great friends, with Spike directing the documentary about Bryant, “Kobe Doin’ Work”. However, the competitive nature and killer instinct Bryant possesses does not allow even his closest friends to be spared. Instead, it was documented in Spike’s film that Kobe absolutely enjoys hanging ridiculous numbers on Lee’s team. Tonight could be another one of those nights, what better way to honor the DVD release? “Kobe 70…YO FAULT!”…perhaps?
-How many points will Kobe score tonight against one of his favorite punching bags? Sound off in the comments section below!
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