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.