Game Preview & Chat: The New York Knickerbockers

Kurt —  December 23, 2007

Records: Lakers 15-10; Knicks 8-18
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.4 (8th); Knicks 102.8 (24th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.6 (11th); Knicks 113.2 (30th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum
Knicks: Jamal Crawford, Fred Jones, Quentin Richardson, Zach Randolph, Eddy Curry

Lakers Notes: Everyone is very high on Andrew Bynum, and we should be high on the guy who has three straight games of double doubles (and he should have a good game today with Curry on him). We shouldn’t shortchange how far he has come in the past year.

But he still has a long way to go. Bynum still is limited in his post moves — he gets most of his points on dunks while getting the ball very deep, on lobs, running the floor or on putbacks. He still needs a lot of polish and some more post moves. Some here (and at other sites) have put Bynum in the same sentence as Shaq — Drew has not begun to show the breadth of post moves Shaq had, nor does he have vintage Shaq’s combo of girth and athleticism. He puts in good effort on defense (most nights) but he still does not defend big bodies in the post that well and is spotty on his rotations.

I love what Drew brings and he is getting better every game, but let’s not overdo it.

Kobe quote: There is a lot of talk about Kobe and the trade “fun” in the papers today, but I think this quote after the 76er game sums up where he is:

“I think we’re doing extremely well. We’ve made the progression to being a solid team, a team that plays consistently well. Even when you have a bad game, you still have an opportunity to win. That’s [the definition of] a solid team. So, now we’ve got to make the progression from being a solid team to jumping up to that elite level, and that’s the hardest step of all.”

The Knicks Coming In: Everything I know about the Knicks I learned from Knickerblogger. Mike at this site was a big part of who I tried to pattern FB&G’s style after, and it remains one of the best reads out there.

With all the focus on the soap opera around the Knicks, most people seem to think they are worse than they actually are. Not that they are good, but the Knicks are 7-8 at home this season and they beat the Cavaliers by 18 earlier this week. They can put together a good game and have some individual talent.

They have two guys who can score on the low block. Zach Randolph is putting up numbers almost identical to last year when he was a beast in Portland — shooting 47% from the floor, grabbing 18% of the available rebounds and he is using a healthy 26% of the team’s possessions.

Curry also can score — he’s shooting of 54% from the floor. David Lee, when he gets in the game, is shooting 53.4% and was the key to a recent Knicks win. The guy that may have the best night against the Lakers may be Jamal Crawford — he’s an athletic guy who plays sort of a shoot-first point guard role, and his athleticism could give the Laker perimeter defenders trouble.

What has hurt the Knicks most this year is defense — they are dead last in the league in defensive efficiency. Team’s shoot a very high 52.4% (eFG) against them and the Knicks create almost no turnovers. The Lakers should be able to score plenty.

Links you should be clicking: Check out the history of every sneaker Kobe has worn in the NBA (and some he hasn’t worn in games). (Thanks for the tip, J.)

We linked to this the other day, but JD Hastings has posted a few new vintage 1973 Lakers photos.

Keys To The Game: The Lakers are going to get plenty of points tonight — Randolph and Curry make a potentially great offensive combo inside but they are both weak defenders, so this should be a big night for Odom and Bynum. As a whole the Knicks are bad defenders, points shouldn’t be the problem.

The key for the Lakers will be defense. Crawford is not really a point (and Jones plays that role some and he isn’t a PG either) so the Lakers should be able to get turnovers with pressure. Crawford is capable of a big game, however, and whoever gets him needs to make sure he doesn’t get on a roll. Also, the Lakers need to play good defense on Curry and Randolph without getting into foul trouble.

This should be an interesting battle of two teams with good energy guys off the bench — Lee, Balkman and Jeffries play hard.

Today’s Game: Where Breakfast and Basketball Happens: The last game of a road trip is a traditional NBA stumbling block, whoever you are playing. And the Lakers have to play at 9 a.m. (by their body clocks). Also, the Knicks have put together some good games. And the Lakers have Kobe trying to put on a show in NY while still not 100%.

All of that is to say the Lakers should win this one, but I expect it to be closer and uglier than many others.

Where you can watch: Game time is 9.m. (Pacific). In Los Angeles tune into KCAL (9), nationally you can check out NBA TV.

to Game Preview & Chat: The New York Knickerbockers

  1. The Knicks are often overlooked by many since they are considered the worst ballclub in the NBA today.

    Talk about being cost-effective, the league’s highest payroll produces only 30 wins a season. They have 5 players that hit the boundary of ultra-super-mega-overpaid and about 3 more whose signings can be best described as “plain stupid”.

    To make matters worse, they have Marbury’s issue, Quentin Richardson’s ‘tude and Isiah’s sexual harassment case loss.

    How do you beat a team who has managed to be perennial cellar-dwellers-controversy-filled-fire-my-coach-extend-him team? There’s simply nothing worse than a loss in the Garden these days.

    IMO, the Lakers are +10 even without Kobe on the lineup. I want to keep him preserved for the Suns on Xmas Day. If they managed to lose this one, I’d be REEEEEALLY cranky.


  2. While this ain’t the NFL where anyone can win on any given Sunday, the Knicks are capable of beating most teams. It is up to the 1st unit to set the stage by defending hard and often early. If we just run our offense there should be good shots in the 1st 15sec of the shot clock. Kobe — stay home and just pass the rock — you will get some wide open jumpers later in the game.


  3. I knew the Knicks D was bad, but man it looks to me like they are regressing from the last bit I saw of them. And Chris Mihm just posterized Curry. Good start.


  4. Kobe’s long-range threes and some question decision making is spoiling an excellent first half.


  5. The Knicks may be the only team I’ve ever seen go under the screen on the pick-and-roll with Kobe. Injured or not I wouldn’t leave Kobe those kind of looks from three.


  6. 4-
    I actually thought Kobe had a pretty good first half- I’ll take 17/7/6 from him in a half. Threw some pretty sick passes, if I do say so.


  7. Why do Lakers keep jacking up those three’s? They are not very good at them, but still keep on taking them.

    Right now it is just ugly.

    I hope we hold on.


  8. Hey guys, I just woke up ready and excited to watch the game and saw that my DVR screwed up and didnt record the game. Usually KCAL 9 shows a replay late at night but they are not for this game.

    Do any of you guys know how I can watch a replay of the game online?

    Please help a Laker fan who really wants to see this game!!


  9. I like Kobe shooting 3’s, especially that late game one. I think in the third quarter, even though the looks were decent, they were out of the flow of the offense which has indeed come back to hurt us. They’ve looked horribly stagnant in this last quarter.

    Also, what’s up with Crittenton in this late game situation? Why now?


  10. I love Jordan Farmar.




  12. 8 Yeah that was a strange substitution. Poor kid was thrown into the fire.


  13. That was ugly!

    Thank god, we have Kobe to bail us out. We looked absolutely awful defensively down the stretch especially on Jamal.

    I’ll take the 3-1 trip though.

    Hopefully we’ll improve for the Christmas Day Game.


  14. I’ll let it pass (the bad 2nd half play I mean) just because it’s the last game of a long road trip and they were up big. I know we don’t like to admit it as fans, we want to see our team smash theirs into tiny little pieces (which we did for 30 minutes) but that’s how players, and hell just human beings tend to be. Also, 3-1 is nothing to scoff at.

    Sidenote: Farmar just ended a late game situation in the most apocalyptic, gut-wrenching way for the Knicks. Seriously, that was brutal. They didn’t even get a freakin’ shot!


  15. PJ almost lost this one like he did the one in Cleveland.

    Somebody has to tell jackson that the stretch from the end of the third through the beginning of the fourth quarter is the biggest momentum shifting part of the game. He’s got to get out of his highchair and earn is 10+ per annum.

    Taking all the starters out and pissing away the lead and momentum is just poor game management. If Kobe doesn’t get unbelievably hot at the end this would have been an ugly ugly loss.


  16. Definitely one of the more one-sided games officiating-wise all season. Until the final 90 seconds, when they called a block on Q and I think a charge on Crawford, there was not one single block or charge called against the Knicks the entire game, and about seven or eight called on the Lakers. The charge on Fish on his lob to Bynum was laughable. I normally don’t rant against the officiating, but this game was just ridiculous. Glad we held on in an 8 against 5 game.


  17. The difference between good teams and bad teams is that good teams win games when they are playing bad and bad teams lose games when they are playing good. (See 4th quarter of Knicks V. Lakers for examples).


  18. Dude

    I kinda saw the same thing. Washington creates a lot of contact with by flailing his off-arm into defenders.

    Excellent D by Farmar.

    I still like the make up of this team and will take a 3-1 trip though it should have been 4-0.

    The second unit must learn to not be complacent with a big lead. They need to pour it on (like against Phoenix and Denver this year).


  19. Things I like…

    Having the Knicks close the gap to one after being down by 25 only to have them make a TO in the final possession. I like beating the Knicks.

    Things I Don’t like…

    Playing like we have won the game only because of a 25 point lead. If you can win by 50, then do so, don’t settle for 20.

    Jacking up threes because Spike Lee is talking to you.

    Jacking up threes because, well, for no apparent reason.

    Not being able to stop a single Jamal Crawford pick and roll. I know we still have problems with it, but the ball handler CANNOT dribble between the two defenders… ever!

    Being outhustled.

    Having Lamar doing the most dumb flagrant foul ever. You can make a hard foul using your body, stop Jamal from shooting and not be called for the flagrant.

    Ariza spacing on the floor (he will improve though)

    Phil’s playing Javaris so late in the game when he didn’t touch the ball the whole game. What was the point? Mess up the kid’s mind?

    From this game we should take the first half and the win… The rest just made me angry…


  20. The Lakers played good in the first half, but got complacent being up by 25 in the 3rd. Basketball is a game of momentum, and it switched to the Knicks pretty quickly. It happens, but it will take a full 48 minute effort against the suns on Tuesday.

    I didn’t understand the Critt substitution. It seemed really odd to me.


  21. Where was Luke?

    Is he okay?


  22. Witness, I think you meant Robinson and not Washington, and yes, on every drive of his where a foul got called on a Laker, Robinson created the contact by pushing the Laker with his left arm and shooting with his right.

    DMo, that is correct and an important issue. The Lakers held on in the last game of a long road trip, and never lost their poise in a hostile arena despite being victimized time and again by poor officiating.


  23. C’mon, does any Laker fan really think it was the officiating that got the Knicks back in the game? I didn’t think once that this was a huge factor in our poor 4th quarter.

    We really choked there to let this potential loss happen. Makes me a little sick actually to imagine that was even possible after a 24 point lead. As Kobe said on Friday, the Lakers are trying to make the hardest step happen, and that is becoming a contender. This 4th quarter was inexcusable if this is ever going to happen for this team. Gotta put the foot on the throat when possible.

    3-1 road trip, guess i shouldnt be complaining.

    And Kobe’s 4th quarter was sensational.


  24. And congrats to Kobe for getting his 20,000th point.

    Man isn’t even 30 years old yet. Remarkable career he has had. We are lucky to root for him. We all knew he was special at age 18. He hasn’t disappointed at all. Best show in the NBA.


  25. Just checked the standings and was surprised to see the Lakers are only 2 games behind the Suns heading into the Christmas Day showdown. Pretty impressive, especially because I agree with Kurt and many others that the Suns are a team built for the regular season.


  26. PJ is absolutely correct to keep the second unit it in situations like the game today. They have to learn to be consistent, and if they don’t, the Lakers will not make the transition to the next level.


  27. Since there are already talks in place, what is the Lakers missing piece? Jason Kidd or Jermaine O’neal, which player do the Lakers need more? and at what cost?


  28. Didn’t see the game, but the line suggests Kobe had fun, and lots of it. a near triple double, although it’s quite telling that the missing piece was assists 😉

    As much as I don’t like seeing Kobe jack up threes, doesn’t he hold the NBA record (or close to, used to) for 3s made in a game? I may be mistaken but I do remember him like hitting 9 against Utah and 12 against Seattle or something…


  29. 22) If O’Neal is reasonably healthy, definitely him. Turiaf has backslid, Vlad shows no consistency, Kwame is hurt, and probably will have injury problems all season, Walton is inconsistent and battling injuries, Mihm is still coming back from his surgeries, Odom is very inconsistent, Ariza is still learning the system. The SF, PF, and back-up C positions are very iffy. Starting C, SG are fine, PG is adequate.


  30. There are not ongoing talks with the Lakers about Kidd or O’Neal or anyone else set to happen in the coming days. That topic is dead for now.


  31. 21. Cary D., Luke twisted his ankle last game and is day-to-day.


  32. Kobe didn’t get the assists necessary for a triple double, because the rest of the team ran away from the ball when the game got close.


  33. Wow. I attended the game today at Madison Square Garden. First time I’ve ever seen a game at MSG. It was heaven for a basketball fan, even way up in the upper deck.

    There were quite a few lakers fans in attendance. The Lakers got lots of cheers and Kobe got about 50/50 cheers/boos in introductions.

    Saying Nate Robinson is “fast” doesn’t do him justice. He is beyond fast.

    Jamal Crawford’s game resembles the game of the 42 year old guy at the park who gets by on an ugly set shot and funky bank shots. Doesn’t matter how it happens, he puts the rock through the ring.

    Kobe was shot a couple shots from WAY far away. He even shot one about 8 feet from halfcourt, with about 8 seconds remaining on the shot clock. Bone-headed shots.

    Ronny has lost his confidence and energy since the concussion. He passed up at least one open look from the top of the key. He was pulling the trigger on those earlier in the season.

    Two favorite things about the game today:
    1. The crowd at MSG was great. They booed Isaiah as much possible, booed their own team for playing like crap through most of the game, and then got astronomically loud when the Knicks made it close. Chants of dee-FENSE were incredibly powerful. The crowd doesn’t need the scoreboard “noise-meter” to tell them to cheer. They just do it. The smallness of the garden helps give the game a great atmosphere. The cavernous space of Wachovia Center (in Philly) and Staples Center severely hinder the power of the crowd.
    2. Jordan Farmar’s steal at the end was incredible. Just a huge sucker punch to the whole crowd. They believed they were going to tie the game with a three from crawford and Farmar just came out of nowhere to make the steal. He was just a blur in my vision as he got his hand on the pass.

    Next time you’re in new york, go see a game. Seriously. It was the best thing I’ve done this whole week.


  34. I agree with Kurt. The new Lakers GM (Kobe) has said he is happy to play in LA.

    I guess this means we do not need new pieces.


  35. Thanks for the Luke update, Kurt.

    Seems like he’s got a bit of his dad in him when it comes to nagging injuries. His ankles seem to be quite a liability…Let’s hope it never becomes too serious.


  36. 34. We need another piece. But we may not get it until the trading deadline in 2009. If then.


  37. Mike In the Mountain West December 24, 2007 at 2:13 am


    This in response to the Kobe opting out conversation on the Philly thread.

    I realize Kobe can’t opt out until the summer of 2009 but if it looks like he is going to use his opt out clause don’t you think the Lakers will be forced to try to trade him next summer? The longer they wait the less they will be able to get for him and their last opportunity to trade him before he is able to walk and leave the Lakers with zilch in return is the Feb. 2009 trade deadline. If they wait till then they’re likely to end up like Philly.

    As Kurt says, we need another piece but if it looks like Kobe might opt-out there is little point in giving away our good young players and draft picks for a player to complement Kobe if Kobe is just going to leave at the end of that season. Neither does it make sense to trade away Lamar cheaply when I think he would do much better on a Kobe-less team.

    The FO is kind of in a pickle. They need to trade for another piece to put around Kobe in order to become a contender. But it’s unclear if Kobe would be willing to stay no matter what they do. So if they get another piece and Kobe leaves they now have a team built around an empty hole in the line-up and fewer assets to build for the future. Yet, if they do nothing Kobe is almost certain to leave. The only option I see, unless Kobe and the FO reach some sort of rapprochement and he agrees to stay, is for Kobe to be traded.

    The best time would seem to be before the 2008 draft but after the draft order has been established so they know what number in the draft they can get from prospective trade partners.


  38. I continue to think this is really all about winning for Kobe — he named three contending franchises on his list (and the Knicks, he’d love to turn that team around). But I think he’s starting to see the grass is not always greener. Right now, the Lakers need to act like they want to build a winner, they can’t worry too much about what Kobe will or won’t do. If they can get another piece, Kobe will stay.

    If you trade a guy like Kobe, you will never get fair value. Any trade will set this franchise back.

    (No, we are not going to discuss trade scenarios people, so don’t even start. Mike, Craig and I are having a philosophical discussion.)


  39. How do we “fix” the Lakers?

    According to raw W/L numbers and simple extrapolations, the Lakers win 51+ rounded to 52 games this year. According to Hollinger, who weighs scores against competition, we are 3rd, BEST IN THE WEST, just edging out Phoenix, and trailing only Detroit and Boston.

    Judging by my own subjective sense, we’re good and getting better. Perhaps it shouldn’t, but to me it starts with players that we no longer have.

    We don’t have Smush or Brian Cook. It automatically removes 2 players that in different ways damaged the flow of both the offense and defense–especially the defense. It harmed team chemistry and even team identity.

    Smush is replaced by Derek Fisher, who is a true Laker from championship days, a team leader, a veteran, and the kind of player who builds cohesiveness among his teammates. Though Smush and Farmar fit poorly as a tandem last year, Fisher plays seamlessly with Jordan Farmar, keeping the energy level high at the PG position.

    Cook and Mo Evans have been replaced by Trevor Ariza through a trade. It has caused all sorts of adjustments by the Lakers.

    First of all, it has required someone else to rest Kobe (Mo’s job). That task has been given to Sasha (the machine) Vujacic, who has already grown into the assignment against big odds in rather dramatic fashion. Mo was great, but Sasha is at least holding his own. VladRad, healthy this year, had already duplicated Brian Cooks biggest asset, the 3 point shot, but has gone on to complement his outside shooting with an inside game, and runs the floor well–fulfilling some of the promise that brought him as a free agent to the Lakers in the first place.

    This allows Trevor Ariza to be the type of player that the Lakers haven’t had for a long time–a very fast, very quick, very big defensive specialist. As he has worked his way into the lineup, he has provided additional benefits. His overall offense is better than advertised. He passes well, and he has made a high percentage of free throws, some in game critical situations.

    It is certain that the Lakers will find more ways to benefit from his skills. Compared to how they were before, he make a greater difference than some may realize. Orlando is already openly speculating that they made a major mistake by trading Trevor. I wouldn’t give him back!

    The Lakers have three centers plus Ronny Turiaff to play center–the 5 spot. Due to injuries, they’ve already needed all four players. They have yet to have all four fully available for the same game this year. Their best tandem appears to be Twinkletoes Brown and Bigfoot Bynum, but specific matchups and game dynamics may change assignments. Bynum has improved dramatically, and has been supported by better team defense and a more aggressive “attack the basket” offense. His play has already changed opponent defenses–and offenses. The Lakers are still exploring better ways to get him the ball in the post even as he finds new moves.

    Kobe Bryant is much more frequently and effectively playing the team concept role–and the team has more frequently bailed him out when he goes out of control through rebounds and defense. This may be his best year in the NBa overall. There are times when his individual defense has stifled an opponent, and there are many times when he has forced a turnover or made a key steal at the very end of a game.

    Lamar Odom has been working his way back from surgery, but the improved team play around him has exposed some serious problems.

    Lamar leads the team in personal fouls, but not in rebounds. He is fifth in steals. He is fifth in assists. He is last among those who attempt 3 point shots. His free throw percentage is below average. He is second only to Kobe in turnovers, is 5th in assists, but is 12th in assists to turnover ratio. His performance varies dramatically from game to game–both points and rebounds.

    Through substitutions and switched assignments, the Lakers have gottten much better at compensating for Lamar’s lapses, but Lamar is a tweener who still needs to connect with the better defined and organized new Lakers this year.

    His numbers are only a little down from career averages, and may well equal or exceed them before the season is over, but he is more exposed this year.

    Considering that Lamar is perhaps the Lakers biggest indiviual player weakness on an upward ascending team with great chemistry, we better be very careful before we “fix” this team through trades.

    They ain’t broke!


  40. a win is a win,but that was beyond ugly! hope they play much better against phoenix. esp since arrogant-d’antoni has a grudge against phil. i hate to see the lakers getting blown out by 30pts at staples on national tv. i’m sure d’antoni will make this personal. i hope everyone is up to the challenge. i just hate to see that guy getting more ammo to take cheap shots on the lakers. He’s the only reason i don’t like phoenix to win it all.


  41. Now that I cooled off a bit, here’s something I would like to see…

    David Lee wearing yellow. That’s the type of player we need… All the little things and garbage points. (Forget about that inbounds pass)

    But I think this is a pipe dream for now…


  42. I think that if FO found the courage to admit some wrongdoing with regards to the insider comment that started this whole thing, this whole Kobe trade/ opt out thing could really be put behind us.


  43. 41. Everyone else abuses Thomas and the knicks, so why can’t we? I understand that on some nights your bench can be better than your starters, but when its every night something is wrong. Honestly, is there a worst run organization in any sport?


  44. Nuggets Frontrunners for Kidd?
    Source: Riverside Press-Enterprise

    The Lakers have made more overtures about acquiring Jason Kidd, but the Nets weren’t interested in the offer, according to the New York Post.

    The Lakers reportedly offered Kwame Brown and his expiring $9 million contract, Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic, Chris Mihm and a No. 1 draft pick.

    The Lakers weren’t willing to make Lamar Odom part of the deal, just as they wouldn’t give up Andrew Bynum when the Lakers tried to acquire Kidd last season.

    The Nuggets, reportedly offering Marcus Camby and draft picks, are considered the front-runners if Kidd is dealt.


  45. 44. So the Nuggests, already abad defensive team, and rebounding team, are going to offer their best rebounder, and defender for Kidd. It doesn’t make sense to me. I think kidd, AI, Mello would be great but they still need a presence inside.


  46. drrayeye,
    “They ain’t broke! ”

    They are certainly better than last season, but is this roster good enough to become a contender by next season, without making any significant changes? Personally, I don’t think so. SF, PF, and PG are only adequate right now, and that is not going to be good enough. A LOT of improvement from Bynum in the next year, combined with some improvement from Farmar, Ariza, Turiaf, and Vlad might be enough to bring the team to the next level, but I don’t think that is very likely to occur.


  47. To comment on the philisophical discourse: holding on to Kobe, then letting him opt out would not be the worst thing in the world. The 2009 free agent market will be loaded with players such as Lebron and Wade; and Kobe will be a very well-worn 31. Having a pile of money to use in attracting a younger, less inherently problematic superstar would not be a bad thing.


  48. I’m sick of all the O’neal and Kidd trade talk. The lakers don’t need them. They’re both very old farts who will hurt the team’s chemistry. That’s not what the Lakers need right now. the best thing to do is wait for 2009 and see if kobe opts out, and if he does, make a move for Lebron. I can definitely see Lebron witht he purple and gold.


  49. I think many of us may be underestimating the Laker organization, coaches, and even players. Development is a function of all those things working together.

    When I don’t see an obviously good move made by the FO I get POed at Mitch and gang, but they seem to have made long range moves fairly adroitly.

    After games like Cleveland and NY I get so very frustrated with the coaching staff and their seemingly blasé attitude toward winning games, but their method seems to do a better job of identifying misfits and developing keepers – never mind Phil’s stated purpose of preparing for the post season.

    Young and talented players seem to develop well in the triangle system and when we project talent we seem to use the player’s current performance as an indicator. I would think Farmar and Bynum would have put a lie to this type of thinking – never mind Sasha. What will next year bring for Trevor and J Crit???

    When you put these three things together I have more optimism for this team next year – just as they are. I also think the FO will come up with something (they did the Trevor trade this year) that helps fill a hole for us next year.

    I want to take what comes this year and I expect a beast team next year. Therefore, I don’t want anything that smells like a fire sale to make Kobe happy. If he can’t deal with what we will have next year, then we are better of letting him go and filling the hole with development than making a trade that we have to recover from for the following 2 years.


  50. I would say this. The Lakers aren’t that far off at all. In fact, if Kwame could start at PF, I think we’d be there. So, if we could trade Kwame for a someone of similar skill set, but who could also understand how to play the PF in the triangle, we’d be there. We don’t need a blockbuster deal. A couple more Ariza style deals may be enough.