By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Lakers | Madison Square Garden
When: Friday | 3:30 PM
Where to Watch: ABC
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York (16-27): As Carmelo Anthony mounted his assualt on both the Knicks' and Madison Square Garden single-game scoring records on Friday night, New York picked up an important win against Charlotte, the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff team right now. Without three of their top four big men, Anthony's captivating 62-point outburst helped the Knicks end a five-game skid. As Melo went to work on Bobcats defenders, his teammates were able to exploit the space that his scoring created and th Knicks shot over 55 percent from the floor and 14 for 27 from three.
Los Angeles (16-28): Without Kobe Bryant (knee) and Steve Nash (back/hamstrings) for most of the season, the Lakers have really struggled to put things together under coach Mike D'Antoni. They're 3-15 in their last 18 games and talk in L.A. has begun to shift to the draft lottery and next year. Nick Young has stepped into Bryant's shooting guard spot and position as the team's leading scorer, averaging 17.1 points per game. When he's not addressing trade rumors, Pau Gasol has been solid -- if not a perfect match for D'Antoni's uptempo system -- averaging 16.7 points and 10 rebounds. Jodie Meeks is the team's third-leading scorer, which really tells you all you need to know about this current Laker team.
The Numbers Game
Our Jonah Ballow dove into the numbers behind Anthony's historic night, as Melo surpassed his childhood idol Bernard King (60 points) and the Lakers' Bryant (61) for the Knicks' and Madison Square Garden single-game scoring records, respectively. My favorite stat from Friday: his 62 points were the most scored without committing a turnover since individual turnovers were first recorded in 1977-78.
Matchup to Watch
J.R. Smith vs. Nick Young
Smith was one of the many positive individual performances that flew under the radar while we were all fixated on Melo's scoring brilliance. Smith shot 5 for 9 in the game, including 3 of 4 from three-point land, and dished out four assists in the process. With the front line depleted, Smith is in a great position to add value off the bench as a beneficiary of the improved spacing we've seen from the Knicks going with Melo at power forward. Young is always a dangerous weapon with the ball in his hands, but he's also shooting nearly 14 shots a game at a 42.7 percent clip. If Smith can lock in on the defense end and force Young into long jumpshots, the Knicks should have an excellent chance to win.
What to Look For
Everyone will be watching to see how Anthony follows up Friday's masterpiece. Despite stingy defense from the Bobcats, he was efficient (23 for 35) and created countless opportunities for his teammates by drawing the defense's attention...Jeremy Tyler looked great in his 22 minutes, scoring eight points, including a couple of high-flying finishes. Coach Mike Woodson hopes that Tyler can provide a boost off the bench in the absence of Amar'e Stoudemire, Kenyon Martin and Andrea Bargnani...The Lakers are in the bottom third in the league in both offensive and defensive efficiency, but a bright spot has been the play of D-League pickup Kendall Marshall, the former lottery pick who is averaging 10.4 points and 9.6 assists in 16 games since being signed.