Records: Lakers 32-10 (1st in West) Knicks 17-24 (10th in East, 1.5 games out of the playoffs)
Offensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 108.3 (10th in league), Knicks 106.1 (19th in league)
Defensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 101.2 (2nd in league) Knicks 107.5 (18th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Knicks: Chris Duhon, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gillinari, Jered Jeffries, David Lee
Talking Books: I am just finishing up the challenging to read but interesting Death With Interruptions by José Saramago (shout out to our readers in Portugal). If you like literature — in the sense you enjoyed being an English major in college — I recommend it.
The Lakers players just picked up books from Phil Jackson (if they open them is another question). Eric Freeman over at Free Darko does a masterful job breaking down the books and their meanings to the players, this is a post worth a read.
Colin over at the Examiner suggests what Phil should have given his charges.
Knicks coming in: The Knicks are in the playoff hunt. Look at that starting roster above, realize that you are likely taller than their best player coming off the bench, and that first sentences is really saying something. This is a roster that has a long way to go to fit D’Antoni’s system, but the fact he has them this close to the playoffs suggests he is earning his money this year.
David Lee is shooting 55.8%, doing a good job on the boards and proving that good players who hustle can fit in any system if they want. Danilo Gallinari is a good fit for this system and is starting to figure out how to work in it. If you want to read more on their young players, Mike at Knickerblogger has a great breakdown of their progress.
Jordan Hill, the Knicks first round pick this summer, is not seeing a lot of time. I’m going to pass on what David Thorpe said while watching him at Summer League: This is a guy that is going to take a two or three years to figure out how to fit his athletic game into the NBA, and then he is the kind of guy who will work great complement better players, but don’t expect him to play well with lesser players.
Keys to game: Sometimes, after you get out of a rough stretch where you feel physically and emotionally beaten up, you just need an easy score. Hey, I’m talking about the Lakers big men in the paint, what did you think I was talking about? The point is, the Lakers should be able to dominate Lee and Jefferies inside tonight and control the game that way (the Lakers had a nearly 30 rebound advantage in the first meeting).
The Knicks don’t play slow, but they have become a .500 team lately (14-13 since the Lakers beat them in November) because they have slowed the tempo a little. Basically, if the break isn’t there they run a more set offense, particularly with the starters. Those sets are simple — pick and roll on one side of the court, three guys standing at the three point line on the other — but they can work if you don’t play the pick and roll well. Those guys at the arc will slash to the hoop if you sleep on them. And, with the floor spaced, Lee and Harrington hit the boards hard and have success. The Lakers need to be aware and talk on defense tonight.
Last year, the Lakers had a tough loss then headed to Madison Square Garden, and Kobe set a building record. See any parallels? I think it would be better if he plays within the system tonight, but something to watch.
Where you can watch: 5 p.m. start here out west, on KCAL 9 and ESPN. Plus, ESPN radio 710am.