Preview & Chat: The New York Knickerbockers

Kurt —  November 24, 2009

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Records: Lakers 10-3 Knicks 3-10
Offensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 106 (16th in league), Knicks 101.8 (26th in league)
Defensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 100.8 (5th in league) Knicks 108.4 (21st in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Knicks: Chris Duhon, Larry Hughes, David Lee, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari

What’s In A Name: Two teams with two of the more interesting names in the NBA tonight. Sure, Knickerbocker is a pair of pants usually worn by young boys or flamboyant golfers, but there are other meanings to the name (that make more sense as to how the team got that name), as firefly pointed out in the comments

Knickerbocker was a term used to refer to old Dutch families in New York. The connotation was one of a respectable class and status. It’s actually a touch snobbish.

Gatinho added this.

The Knickerbocker name is also derived from Washington Irving’s collection of short stories where he referred to Diedrich Knickerbocker as a founding father of the Dutch colonies of New York. He is mentioned in the first line of “Rip van Winkle”.

“The following Tale was found among the papers of the late Diedrich Knickerbocker…”

Lakers are the men who worked on the ships (also referred to as Lakers) that populated the lakes of Minnesota, “The Land of 10,000 Lakes”.

The Lakers Coming in: After the last couple of games, there is not a lot more to say other than “keep it up.” With the Knicks, Warriors and Nets on the schedule it is time for Thanksgiving, as we should see some comfortable wins. And you know what that means — Shannon Brown’s spectacular garbage-time dunk show.

There are a couple good Kobe stories worth reading. One from a guy who took some heat around here today but I’ve always liked to read in Matt Moore, and another from a SoCal guy now living back east and working for a little publication called the NY Times.

And if you can’t get enough Kobe, he and Spike Lee are doing a roundtable on Kobe Doin’ Work after the game over at the ESPNZoneLALive.

If you want more, there’s always Ron Artest in his underwear.

The Knicks Coming in: Here’s what I think the 2009-10 Knicks have taught us: It takes more than one season to undo the damage Isaiah Thomas did.

The fastest way to undo the damage would be to get someone — anyone — to take Eddy Curry’s contract off their hands (and books). That’s why you’ll see a fair amount of the new, thinner Curry tonight, he is being showcased. He looked decent scoring 10 points in his first game back but has struggled the last couple games (he is shooting just 40%).

In addition to the weight loss, one thing that is different is that Curry seems to be enthusiastic about playing. The problem is his offensive game — getting the ball in the low post — is not a great fit with the 7-seconds-or-less offense. Plus, the Knicks guards do not make great entry passes, and when they have Curry has fumbled them away like his first name should be Kwame.

The Knicks offense is a lot of ball screens and quick shots. And they have been terrible this year, but like any team they can get hot — they did against the Celtics recently.

The guy carrying the offensive load is Al Harrington, who comes in as the sixth man but often plays the most minutes. He’s been shooting fairly well — true shooting percentage of 55.7% — but he’s probably not the guy you want as your best offensive weapon. Nate Robinson comes in off the bench and provides a spark as well, and then there is David Lee, the hustling forward providing rebounding as well as some points.

The one guy I find interesting to watch is Danilo Gallinari, who is maybe the one guy on the roster really built for D’Antoni’s style of play. He is 6-10 with range and is shooting 60.5% (eFG%) and 44% from three this year. He is taking steps forward but he is on a short leash — D’Antoni is quick to bench him for mistakes. Quicker than any other Knick. I don’t know why that is, but it’s true.

Also check out Toney Douglas, the rookie the Lakers picked then traded to the Knicks last draft. I saw him at Summer League and thought him very mature and making the right plays, something rare for a rookie. He has some game, and while he will never be CP3 he can be a solid guard in this league for years.

Blogs and Links: Mike and the team at Knickerblogger have been at this longer than I have, and I still am a regular on his stat page.

Keys to game: Rule one of playing a D’Antoni team: Do not get sucked into their style. If the Lakers start taking long jumpers early in the clock, this game will stay close.

When the Lakers have the ball. David Lee and Eddy Curry are no match for Gasol and Bynum on the block, and the Lakers need to exploit that. Pounding the ball inside is part of controlling the pace, but bottom line the Lakers need to run their offense and they will get the shots they want.

As for defending the Knicks, Chris Duhon is no Steve Nash. Lee and Harrington love to do the Amare and slip the high pick — meaning they start to set it but then roll to the basket before Duhon uses the pick, and they get the ball back going to the rim. As you would with the Suns, you want to keep the ball in the point guard’s hand and make him the shooter. Don’t let him get the ball to opponents in spots they want it, make them work for their chances.

Where you can watch: This game tips off at 7:30 pm Pacific, on Fox Sports, and on the radio at 710 ESPN.