Preview and Chat: The New York Knicks

Kurt —  February 13, 2007

Turning it around. Call it a slump, blame the injuries, say the season of bad defense is catching up with them, say that Mercury is retrograde so the stars are lined up against us, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is the Lakers are 3-7 in their last 10 and have looked like a team more destined for the lottery than one that could scare the best in the West.

The good news is the team enters a stretch of games where they can turn it around. Starting tonight. It’s New York, a winnable game. That’s followed on Thursday by the chance to show the Cavs that other Lakers than are a threat to score, then the All-Star break to rest up (and maybe a healthy Luke Walton), followed by Portland, the Celtics and Golden State. Winnable games all.

Stepping up. When the Lakers looked sharp a month or so ago, they were getting offensive contributions from everyone. In his last 10 games Lamar Odom is shooting 44% (eFG%) and 28.6% from three. Smush has taken more threes than any Laker the last 10 games and is shooting 30% from range. Bynum is shooting 47.4%. Radmanovic has been a defensive disaster much of the time.

Play during this loosing streak has looked like last season to me, with the downward spiral of Kobe taking on more of the offense because others are missing, which pushes other guys more into a shell, so Kobe has to shoot more, and so on. It’s time to get back to sharing and hitting some shots

The last meeting between these two. On one hand, I’m not sure we can take much from that game because the Lakers were without Kobe and Odom’s knee was wobbly. The results were ugly for LA.

However, there are a couple lessons, and a couple of Lakers need to step up. First in Andrew Bynum, who got in foul trouble because he could not do much with Eddie Curry, which led to Curry getting 27 points on 50% shooting. Bynum simply has to do better. Part of that is denying Curry position on the block and then using his length to bother Curry, all without getting fouls. To be fair that’s a tall order as Curry is good on the block.

But the other part of that is you’ve got to make Curry work on the defensive end, he is not a good defender and you can score on him. Utah made a great late-game comeback on the Knicks the other night because they started running the offense through whoever Curry covered. For the Lakers, this means setting up the triangle positions quickly and getting the ball inside early — not just working it around the perimeter and pinch post.

The other thing is better play on the perimeter. Stephon Marbury and Jared Jeffries combined to be 15 of 23 from the floor for 36 points. Having Kobe on the floor should help with some of that, but it would be a nice change of pace for Smush to fight through a pick and for the defense to rotate behind him.

The Knicks get someone back too. Steve Francis is expected to be back tonight, coming off the bench. Tough match up for Farmar, who needs to show what he can do on defense.

One thought on trades. This is really the silly season for the NBA, as for the next two weeks countless trade rumors will take flight, sometimes based on reality and sometimes on the whim of a speculating columnist. Here’s my point — think about any trade from both sides. Both general managers are looking to improve their teams, and you need to think about what they would ask for. For example, if you were dealing with Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers, would ask for Radmanovic or Cook? Would you want Smush or Farmar? Would you really settle for the lesser of the two? Just something to think about.

Things to look for: Just a win. We need one. This is a team the Lakers could and should beat.

Run the offense, get the ball inside early and make Curry work at both ends. Move without the ball in the half court and push the ball in transition.

On defense, well, did you see Lamar Odom’s quote from yesterday? He said that the guys on the playgrounds in Queens do a better job of communicating on defense, of calling out picks and asking for help, than the Lakers do. So, maybe we do need a little playground on this team.

Kurt

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15 responses to Preview and Chat: The New York Knicks

  1. The guys need to finish strong defensive stands with box outs and movement to long rebounds. This has been killing defensive momentum and intensity. 24 seconds of strong defense to only give them the ball right back. I’m sick of watching that rerun.

  2. Why does everybody keep talking about the Kidd trade. Its not gonna happen. First of all, Kwame is hurt for another month and Kidd is having back problems. When was the last time there was a big deal involving injured players? And the Nets are not gonna torture their fanbase by trading Kidd for Kwame , Mihm, Mckie, and Farmar. Secondly, Kidd is 34 and getting paid a LOT of $ (with a bad back). I think I speak for all Laker fans when I say we’ve been patient thus far, lets keep playing with who we got until the T’Wolves give us a jingle… until then, don’t bother us, we’re trying to get ready to upset someone in the 1st round.

    One trade I think we should be looking at… Maggette for VladRad. Vlad is not fitting in with us. He doesn’t have the discipline to just run the triangle and wait for wide open 3s. We have Cook, who shoots just as well. and knows his role. Vlad did much better last year across the hall so lets let him go back and play like he wants to play. Maggette wants out, we all know this. Kobe is good friends with Maggette. Maggette could instantly make us better just as Vlad could give the slumping Clips a spark. Doesn’t this trade make more sense than all of our towel boys for Kidd?

  3. Hey, if anyone is going to the game tonight can you send me a quick email. Thanks.

  4. The thing about the Kidd rumor that really makes sense to me, from the Nets perspective, is the two 1st round draft picks.

    Also, the expiring contracts would give the Nets some serious flexibility to rebuild at the end of this year. I’m not sure what the free agent class looks like, but at least it creates options.

    Bottom line, if the Nets decide that they need to rebuild, and nobody offers them anything better between now and the deadline, then I could see this deal happening b/c two first round picks and three expiring contracts would make rebuilding a whole lot easier.

    As for the Lakers’ side of things, I think it’s a no-brainer.

  5. Time to trade some freakin butts…

    I’m sorry but there’s serious problems in this locker room and there should be no damn reason why it happens mid-season…

  6. Going through stereotyped rotations with a depleted roster is a recipe for disaster.

    After he single handedly turned momentum in the Laker’s favor toward the end, our only “energy” man, I wonder how Turiaf felt to be pulled for the last 60 seconds and watch his team lose?

  7. We talk about two steps forward and one step backward for a young and learning team. This one seems to be sinking into a hole without any plus steps around. I really am getting impatient with the veteran players on this team. This is the time they need to help guide the really young guys. It seems the vets (Lamar) are leading the passive parade.

    Phil saying he felt sorry for Lamar and wanted to help him out with the final play. We don’t pay coaches for feeling sorry; we pay them to win. I hope the pressure is really starting to rise on Phil Jackson, because if this season doesn’t get better very fast it will confirm the suspicion that he has to have a team of vets to successfully coach.

  8. Smush Parker’s new nickname is DLeague…because that is where he belongs. Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis both looked like they had flash backs to 1999 when smush was matched up agains them. START FARMAR!

  9. I, for one, welcome our new Knick overlords…

  10. Chris Bosh (formerly known as ian) February 14, 2007 at 2:26 am

    Through the wonders of the internet (thank you Mr. Vice-President) I was watching that game on the MSG network. It was interesting to hear the Knicks commentators. They were actually pretty fair to both sides, and they were praising Kobe non-stop. Although thanks to Smush’s stellar defense they were able to start comparing Marbury to Kobe. But I definitely missed the K-Cal dynamic duo.

  11. I wouldn’t be so hard on the play necessarily of the Lakers’ players. Player’s level of play can vary throughout the season. However, if a team wants to win, what should be a constant is competetiveness. You have to want a championship so badly that you’ll do whatever it takes even during a stretch where you are not playing well. You have to want to take the last shot during the game. It my eyes, there are only two players on the Lakers who really want a championship badly and that is Kobe and Luke. I would put Bynum in there, but I don’t think he necessarily needs it this year. Even if J Kidd is a shell of himself, he has the heart of a champion and he wants a ring before he retires. This heart is more important than anythin else. Kwame may improve his play throughout his career, but he will never have the heart of a champion. We need Kidd, or Kobe’s heart is trying to pump enough blood for five players, and that is asking a lot of the kid.

  12. 9) don’t blame me, I voted for Kobe/Kodos.

    How do you not foul Curry when he touches the ball at the end. How?!?!? He shoots what? 6% 60% Some ridiculously low number. You know why teams played hack-a-shaq? Cause it worked! If it didn’t work, they wouldn’t do it! You get someone who can’t shoot from 15 feet and you FOUL HIM EVERY CHANCE YOU GET!

    Marbury shot 2-7. Francis 1-5. How is this one Smush’s fault? It’s games like this where I actually miss Kwame (speaking of 6% FT shooters).

  13. Bryan, I was at the game, and although they didn’t shoot that well, Marbury and Francis drove by Smush at every opportunity. When they would get to the basket and draw defenders, it wouldn’t matter if they missed because the Lakers bigs would have to come over and help cover smushes mistake, opening it up for guys like David Lee and Q Rich to get offensive boards time and time again. As well, the need to cover for his mistakes got guys like Ronny Turiaf in foul trouble (and Ronny was having a really good game). Marbury had nine assists in that game, mostly off of draw and kicks (guys had to come help out because Smush couldn’t cover him). Believe me, they didn’t shoot well, but they were allowed to penetrate past Smush time and time again in that game. Marbury and Francis both are shells of their former selves, but in last nights game they both had a bounce in their steps that I hadn’t seen in a while. START FARMAR!

  14. For those of you still talking Kidd, this is from today’s LA Times.

    On Tuesday, however, a source with knowledge of the situation said it was “extremely remote” that a trade would take place between the Lakers and Nets.

    Kidd is a particular favorite of Nets owner Bruce Ratner and would not be traded unless he went to Ratner and asked to be moved — an unlikely scenario, said a source familiar with Kidd’s thinking.

    Kidd, who will be 34 next month, makes $18 million this season and $41 million over the next two seasons, a hefty investment. Another consideration: If the Lakers acquire him, they probably will have to pay luxury taxes the next two seasons. They have not paid the luxury tax since the 2004-05 season.

    More than a month ago, the Nets made a round of phone calls during a losing streak to see if teams would be interested in some of their players, a source said. The Lakers, like many teams, wanted to talk about Kidd.

    A source said the Lakers were unwilling to part with three players — Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum, which could also be a deal-killer.

  15. The main problem is that we don’t seem to be getting better… our rotations still stink, we flat-out refuse to hedge on pick-n-roll anymore, we go under screens on shooters, and push through them on quick guys? NEVER EVER pump fake on a 3 and drive to the hoop?

    Everything seems to be slipping away, and that means that it has to be Phil’s fault.

    also, we’ve never had a point guard who can guard anyone… not that I’m enamored w/ smush, but he isn’t a big drop-off