Knicks vs. Lakers 8:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
The Knicks are reaping the benefits of their new-found continuity over the last three games as the squad has tallied three consecutive victories by a margin of 10.6 points. Impressively, New York has found a way to snag wins against the Jazz and Wizards without Carmelo Anthony (strained groin) and Amar’e Stoudemire (personal matter) in the lineup. Jeremy Lin has led the way, taking the NBA by storm with an incredible three-game stretch that most recently featured 23 points and a career-high 10 assists in Washington. The improved play has the Knicks within striking distance of the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference standings, just a half game behind Milwaukee.
Los Angeles snapped a two-game slide in dramatic fashion on Thursday night in Boston. The victory lifted the Lakers to a 15-11 overall record while the team is in the middle of a major logjam between the four and seven spots in the Western Conference. Despite not being a deep team, Los Angeles is healthy with the return of Steve Blake to the lineup after the point guard recovered from a rib injury. Of course, Kobe Bryant is still a handful as he leads the NBA in points per game at 29.3. The future Hall of Famer just passed Shaquille O’Neal on the all-time scoring list and this year and Bryant has seemed to regain his legs. With two more games left on the current seven-game road trip, Los Angeles is looking to improve on its 5-9 road record.
Last Time Out
With a 35-point second quarter and 30-point final stanza, New York secured a 107-93 road win over the Wizards on Wednesday night.
As mentioned above, the Lakers escaped Boston with an 88-87 overtime win after Paul Pierce missed a potential game-winner and Pau Gasol swatted a Ray Allen put-back attempt.
The Numbers Game
According to ESPN.com, Lin is the first player since LeBron James and Greg Anthony in 1991-92 to post 20+ points, 8+ assists in each of his 1st two career starts.
Match-up to Watch
Knicks Frontcourt vs. Lakers Frontcourt
The Lakers boast one of the largest frontcourts in the league with Gasol and Andrew Bynum anchoring the paint. Bynum is heading to his first All-Star game as a starter behind a terrific start to the 2011-12 season. The two big-men are averaging a combined 33.5 points and 22.6 rebounds per game. Tyson Chandler will help protect the rim but he will have to avoid foul trouble in what figures to be a physical battle on the blocks. On the flip side, Chandler is fresh off a 25-point performance against the Wizards and he can certainly apply pressure to the Los Angeles seven-footers by diving to the rim for alley-oop opportunities.
What to Look For
Once again, the Knicks will head into battle minus their top two scoring weapons. However, Mike D’Antoni’s squad has adjusted and kept the team afloat with major contributions off the bench from Steve Novak and Iman Shumpert. The Knicks second unit will need to take advantage of their court time facing a Lakers team that ranks at the bottom in the league in bench points per game.
Additionally, Los Angeles just completed a grueling overtime game in Boston while New York received a much-needed day of rest yesterday. Points will be at a premium tonight as the Lakers rank fourth in points per game allowed and first in field goal percentage at a stifling 41.7 percent.