Preview & Chat: The New York Knicks

Darius Soriano —  December 29, 2011

Records: Lakers 1-2 (9th in the West), Knicks 1-1 (9th in the East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 104.6 (13th in NBA), Knicks 100.1 (20th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 98.8 (7th in NBA), Knicks 106.7 (22nd in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Devin Ebanks, Josh McRoberts, Pau Gasol
Knicks: Toney Douglas, Landry Fields, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler
Injuries: Lakers: Derrick Caracter (out), Matt Barnes (questionable); Knicks: Baron Davis (out), Iman Shumpert (out), Jared Jeffries (out)

The Lakers Coming in: It took three games, but the Lakers finally got their first win of the season in their last contest. Coming off a day’s rest, here’s hoping the team can carry over some of the positives from the Jazz game and continue to cut down on the negatives that plagued them in the losses vs. the Bulls and Kings.

We’re already starting to see improvement in how well the Lakers take care of the ball (committing only 20 turnovers combined in the last two games after posting 17 against Chicago) and in playing defense for full possessions by better closing out on shooters and then finishing with defensive rebounds. That said, the Utah game was only one contest and the Lakers must carry over these good habits tonight if they hope to beat a motivated Knicks team.

The Knicks Coming in: And the Knicks will be motivated after the loss they endured to the Warriors last night. The Knicks were able to keep the contest close (even lead for a good portion of the game) until the Warriors’ defense picked up its intensity and Monta Ellis went into full playmaker mode in the 4th quarter, dishing out assists while also getting his own shot to fall. The Knicks simply couldn’t deal with his speed turning the corner and his ability to break down the defense had the Knicks scrambling around to the point that they gave up a few too many jumpers.

Beyond just last night’s game, though, the team we’ll see tonight is a bit different than the one from last year. Gone is Billups and in is Tyson Chandler. The draft yielded a promising young guard many NY fans are high on (Iman Shumpert), but he’s now sidelined with a knee injury. The Knicks have added Mike Bibby and Baron Davis to try and replace what Chauncey brought them but Bibby hasn’t yet shown he’s any better than the player the Heat happily let walk and Baron is still on the shelf with his bad back. This leaves guys like Bill Walker and Steve Novak earning minutes and while their both role players with skills that can help a team, they’ve not exactly top level depth. We’ll see what this team is capable of once all the parts are healthy and clicking, but that time is not yet now and the team will simply have to take its lumps until it is.

Knicks Blogs: There are several excellent Knicks sites to get great info. Knickerblogger and Posting & Toasting are the two places to start, though.

Keys to game: The Knicks have reorganized their team in the hopes of establishing more of a defensive mindset. With Tyson Chandler anchoring the pivot, scoring in the paint against this team got more treacherous. Running Center based P&R’s is also more difficult, what with Tyson’s foot speed and long arms disrupting driving lanes and passing angles whenever the ball handler tries to turn the corner.

So, the Lakers will need to subtly tweak their offensive sets to better attack the Knicks. While running the P&R shouldn’t be abandoned, it should be run more in doses and at defenders not named Chandler. I expect Amare to start out on McRoberts so LA may be better served running this action with Josh setting the initial screen on Kobe’s man. This would let McRoberts to dive hard to the rim while Gasol circles back to the elbow area to make himself available as an outlet should Kobe get trapped or the dive man is taken away. This will allow Pau to set up for his elbow jumper or to take one dribble to get to the rim and/or turn his back to set up one of his many post moves.

The Lakers should also continue to run their screen actions to free up Kobe at the elbow/top of the key area(s) in order to get him his shots in these preferred spots. Allowing Kobe to make his catches in these areas will also set him up well to unleash is triple threat arsenal on Fields where he can easily get off his jumper or use his variety of jab steps to free him up to get to the rim. These sets will work especially well whenever Murphy and Gasol are on the court as these are the bigs that provide the best spacing and draw their defenders away from the rim for Kobe to more easily get to the basket.

Defensively the Lakers have a tall task in front of them but it will be different than what other Mike D’Antoni units have offered up. In order to secure Chandler, the Knicks had to give up Chauncey Billups and his departure has weakened the Knicks’ P&R game. They use Melo as the creator in these sets more often now – and he’s proven to be a good passer when handling in the P&R – but it’s obvious that Anthony is still most comfortable isolated on the wing where he can use his own triple threat set up to abuse defenders. The diverse ways in which the Knicks use Melo will put a lot of pressure on Ebanks as he’ll need to navigate screens both in the P&R and off ball, work on an island on the wing, and battle in the post against the brutish Anthony. If the 2nd year pro isn’t up to the task, don’t be surprised if MWP makes an early appearance to battle Melo as these two have an extensive history.

Slowing Amare will also be key but he, more than any other holdover Knick, has suffered from the Knicks’ P&R game not being as sharp. Stoudemire is still getting his numbers with relatively good efficiency (18.5 points on 52% shooting) but he’s not yet put up the types of stats that had him mentioned among MVP candidates for long stretches last season. This is likely because he’s shooting a few more jumpers this year than last as he finds himself making catches further away from the hoop and settling for more jumpers. Last night against the Warriors, Amare often floated around the perimeter and served as an outlet when plays broke down and it resulted in him taking long two’s. Maybe tonight he’ll be more aggressive, but I hope the Lakers lay off him and encourage him to flash the range on his jumper. If he buries them, tip your cap and change ends. If he misses, you’ve kept one of the more explosive finishers in the league outside the paint for another possession.

Lastly, I’d like to see the Lakers continue their strong work on the glass. They’ve won or tied the rebounding battle in every game so far and you can see there’s more of a concerted effort to hit the defensive glass by all 5 players. The guards are doing a better job of closing down the foul line and the bigs (for the most part) are attacking the ball when it comes off the rim. That effort will need to continue tonight as Amare and Chandler are two active bodies that will go after offensive rebounds and Melo is one of the strongest SF’s in the game, thus making him very difficult to move out of the lane when he goes to the O-glass. LA will need to keep these three off the glass and the guards will need to make sure that they both help down but not too far so as to give up long rebounds when the Knicks miss three pointers.

Overall, the Lakers need this game to build some momentum moving forward. Bynum will be back in the next contest and bringing him into the fold with a .500 record would be worlds better than this team being 1-3. It’s early yet, of course, but with a shortened season, this team doesn’t want to start in too big a hole.

Where you can watch: 7:30 start time on TNT. Also listen at ESPN Radion 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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99 responses to Preview & Chat: The New York Knicks

  1. #1 for Warren for 2 in a row
    let’s get this one!

    should World Peace start against ‘mello?
    gonna be a rough night for Pau

  2. I don’t think Brown should alter the line up. MWP seems taking to this new role. Why mess with it. Besides if Ebanks is going to be a starter than he needs to get experience against better players

  3. Excellent preview & being from Harlem NYC, I have a keen interest in this game (even though it’s too early in the season to take anything of real significance away from the end result). As alluded to by Darius, Ebanks (with all do respect to Lual Deng) will have his 1st real defensive assignment/test tonight. Melo, who imo is the 3rd best SF n the league, can get buckets from any area of the court. His mid-range game/jumper is wet, he’s improved his stroke from beyond the arc and he’s a beast n the low-post/paint. I’m pretty sure he’s salivating @ the opportunity of going @ the youngin’. ‘McBobs’ better be ready to lock in defensively also because ‘Stat’ has proven n the past that he’s more than capable of putting up strong numbers against our frontline. Especially with the absence of Drew. If we can contain the 2 of them (I have more faith n Ebanks than ‘McBobs’), we should be able to prevail because the Knickerbockers backcourt doesn’t strike fear in anybody.

  4. I expect a huge game from Carmelo Anthony tonight after his bad showing at Golden State last night.

  5. No doubt this is a very key game,because.500 with Bynum coming is important for psychological reasons. Also a good test because the Knicks are still one of the top teams the East.

  6. I have a very good feeling about this game after the Knicks flunked out of the Warriors game last nite…

  7. Look for Chandler to be active tonight, as he loves to play in front of his family and friends in Los Angeles.

  8. read the gamethreads for the knicks over at knickerblogger and offensively those fans over there are a bit discouraged about suitability of their guards to run screen-roll. they’re just not cut out for it, and look to melo to be more of a playmaker. i think that’s good news for the lakers.

    however, their is some good shooting ability in their backcourt. where they can hurt the lakers is in transition, and jumpstarting the break with blocks and triggering stops will be tyson chandler.

    so, the lakers need to be careful on the offensive end. no bad 3s, no careless passes. execute and minimize turnovers.

  9. Rusty Shackleford December 29, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    We couldn’t add Michael Redd for $1.3 million for depth at the shooting guard?

  10. Is it me or is Lamar looking kind of chunky this season?

  11. lamar looks like pre-gasol lamar.

  12. Did the Lakers send Lamar behind enemy lines to tank the Mavericks’ season? He’s looking an awful lot like a secret double agent right now with as bad as he’s been playing.

    I still am not afraid of this Thunder team, other than Durant and Westbrook and Harden their offense is extremely stagnant with no consistent shooters. Bad matchup for other teams but for LA not so much. I’m confident that if LA ran into the Thunder last year they would have beaten them, they just got the worst possible matchup in Dallas, a team with shooters at every position who can space the floor and bigs that negated the Lakers size.

  13. I’d really like to see Barnes get some run tonight. I like his D and his energy. Not sure what is going on there. He says he’s not injured…

  14. i’d like to see the laker game in its entirety so this okc-dal game better not go into overtime.

  15. This discussion came up at my gym would you put Westbrook in your top 5 PGs?

    And who do you think is better Rondo or Westbrook? I voted Westbrook but nobody agreed with me

  16. i don’t like artest-fisher out there at the same time. too old and slow.

  17. Ebanks lasted six minutes before picking up his second foul. Now we get Artest v Melo – should be fun.

  18. McRoberts. Nice.

  19. The more I see McRoberts the more I like his game.

    Kobe looks energized for this matchup tonight, he’s all over the floor including great close outs on D.

  20. McRoberts draws the offensive foul. HUGE 1st quarter.

    Artest kick-out to Blake for the open 3. Execution, baby.

  21. Blake! Penetration from someone other than Kobe… This can’t be right.

  22. McRob impacting the game huge right now and not just with stats. Love the activity.

  23. This Knicks D has a long way to go, getting Chandler was huge but everyone else on that team has to buy in because it still looks like a Mike D’Antoni defense

  24. I’m happy with Murphy so far, but I think we need to take better advantage of his three-point shooting ability. He needs to be more involved as a floor spacer.

  25. Going to be a full rotation of SF’s tonight, Ebanks, Barnes and Metta. They can get away with it against this team and the subpar guards. Also need the fouls against Melo.

  26. 23

    It’s hard to be a good defensive team when you start Melo and Amare (possibly the 2 most overrated stars in the league).

  27. Melo scored 7 pts on Ebanks and 2 on artest (they played 6 min. each). ‘Nuff said.

  28. Provided that Kobe, Pau and Drew stay healthy – this team is very dangerous.

  29. McRoberts looks like to be a very good pickup for the Lakers. I like what he brings to the game for the Lakers, very active

  30. Agreed Joel that’s what I mean about buying in, but I don’t think Carmelo is overrated he just needs to bring his talents to the defensive side of the floor and he hash’t done that yet. He’s a good enough athlete to where he shouldn’t have issues.

  31. I like how Melo has to expend energy chasing Ebanks around, he doesn’t have to do that against Metta. Will make a nice tag team change of pace to throw both at him. Like body blows, it pays off later but not right away.

  32. Kenny – when MWP checked in with six to go – Knicks had 19 – scored five points the rest of the way. And this is the guy people wanted to amnesty…

  33. Wow, Knicks shot less than 30% from field in 1st quarter but 43% from 3.

  34. Amnesty talk with Ron was always just loony, coming from people who don’t really watch the game. For his salary, he still gives you above market contribution.

  35. 30

    I don’t think his talent/skill set is overrated, but as a ‘superstar’ he doesn’t apply enough of those skills consistently.

    Amare on the other hand has been at or near the top of my ‘most overrated’ list for several years.

  36. Kobe’s expression after that McBobs Dunk: Priceless

  37. I love how McRob manages to get a hand on any ball that isn’t completely secure.

    Way too much Kobe iso play right now. Brown needs to yell at him.

  38. No call on Amare’s foul on kobe cost Lakers 5 points. It seems like Kobe doesn’t get nearly the respect from officials as some other superstars. Am I just looking through purple and gold tinted glasses?

  39. Kapono with seven… who knew?

  40. Chownoir, Mike Brown wanted Kobe to go Iso against Amare, he told the team to clear the lane. He should have had 2 free throws there he got hacked

  41. BTW you all are crazy if you think Artest can guard Melo, he will get anywhere he wants against him. Melo has been picking his spots and not forcing shots. Thats why he has scored less against Artest than Ebanks

  42. @Lakers8884, ahh thanks, I missed that. That last fadeaway was pretty forced though.

  43. i thought the lakers could have done a better job of attacking josh harrelson with pau, but a very enjoyable half of team basketball nonetheless.

  44. Kobe is almost dropping the ball all the time – the injury really has to be bothering him. The fact that he’s still 5-6 from the field just tells you what kind of player he is.

  45. “World Peace has bought into being on that second unit” – every sentence sounds great with World Peace in it=)

  46. Are we the worst free throw shooting team in the league?! Tyson Chandler shoots free throws better than our entire team.

    Pretty solid half, but how are we only up 12 while shooting 72%?! Because the Knicks can shoot free throws, that’s how. They’re a +10 from the foul line.

  47. Lakers closed out the half with MWP, Barnes and Ebanks on the court. :-) I am enjoying Mike Brown.

  48. Lakers 72% from field and 5-6/83% from 3!!!!

  49. Pretty great looking first half, defensively there’s always room for improvement but you have to like what you see out there.

  50. Lakers have to play defense without fouling in the 2nd half because they cannot possibly shoot as well as they did in 1st half. The only things keeping Knicks in game is the Lakers poor free throw shooting and their great free throw shooting

  51. 1st Half Analysis: Offense is looking good. Quite obvious that they’re starting to pick up the Intricacies of Coach Brown’s System. Shooting has been Wet .. Defensively, we’re fouling too much. The foul line is keepin’ them n the game. Besides the Charity Stripe, Melo is doing him (which was to be expected). Metta, while excelling offensively, is doin’ a terrible job defending La La’s Husband. Instead of moving his feet, he’s just reaching, therefore getting blown by .. Considerin’ we’re shootin’ lights out, we should be up by more, imo.

  52. i expect a run from the Knicks right away. Let’s see if the Lakers stay patient, continue their passing, and continue their movement.

  53. Ebanks speed at Melo, body blows that will pay off later.

    Darius just pointed out in twitter that Lakers have had strong 3rd quarters in every game so far. See if they can continue the trend. Would be good to extend and put it away before the 4th.

  54. More Blake less Fisher please

  55. Pau Gasol’s eyes must light up everytime they see Amare.

    He seems to remember he’s Pau Gasol everytime they match up.

  56. Pau has got to step up, Kobe could not spoon feed him any better

  57. Willingness to pass and guys open are good, just need better execution.

  58. Kobe showing some defense with a block and a steal

  59. What are Kobe’s odds in Vegas for leading the league in turnovers this year? Even or better and I’d take that bet.

  60. So in addition to awful free throw shooting, do we lead the league in turnovers too? Seriously!

    We’re lucky the Knicks can’t hit a shot tonight…

  61. Say what you want about Turnovers (which should be expected at this point) but Kobe looks sharp this year

  62. Pau is playing a decent game, but is showing signs of fatigue. Drew can’t back soon enough..

  63. KevinDing KEVIN DING
    Lakers’ 71.9% field-goal shooting in first half vs. Knicks? Highest in a half by the Lakers since March 21, 1999.

  64. kobe for three–and one

    is it me, or does kobe look like he has turned the clock back on his knees about two years?

  65. Dang! That was a hand grenade Blake gave Kobe, passing to him with 4 seconds left in shot clock and 30 feet from basket. But KOBE!!!!

  66. @61
    I agree that Kobe is playing very well, but he has been turning it over more and more every year as his fingers/wrists have gotten more banged up and he’s lost some quickness.

  67. Kobe is just showing off at this point.

  68. @64 Now if he could only get that procedure done on his wrist and finger;)

  69. Tyler, I understand what you are saying but turnovers should be expected and should be a non-issue for us fans at this point. The guy is the ONLY offensive playmaker on this team and he has injuries hampering his ball handling. That’s a recipe for turnovers if there has ever been one. Yes he can try to minimize them but when one player is asked to do so much given his circumstances they should be expected and people shouldn’t complain about them as much as they do.

    Last year when Kobe had to carry the team through 3 quarters he would run out of steam in the 4th, so let’s see how much has changed this season.

  70. Metta with the gaudy +/- that Lamar used to have

  71. lakers have had 2 chances to really put the game away, but the knicks remain within striking distance. where’s the killer instinct?

  72. If we lose this game, blame Kobe and that 2 minutes of BS ISO’s and over-dribbling. Mike Brown should have called a time-out and chewed Kobe’s ass out!!! He needs to be on the bench to start the fourth.

  73. To make a long story short: Not a good 3rd quarter for us.

  74. I’m probably still on the honeymoon, but I’ll say it for the 3rd game in a row: I really, really like watching McRoberts (and Murphy). There’s something refreshing about watching some grit, hustle, and guys with (relatively) limited talent maximizing their impact on the game.

    NY is making this easy on our defense. And we’re picking up some of their habits. Turnovers and isolation basketball for us last 3-4 plays.

  75. just when u think MWP has turned a corner lol

  76. @Snoopy – Loving McRambis a lot. Great Energy. Knows where to be defensively and offensively…

  77. there should never be an iso play for meta, EVER, unless he’s on the block. also, it seems to me that after like 5 minutes of floor time, and playing within his role, he opts out and becomes crazy ron ron again. it is extremely ugly when it happens.

  78. Raining three pointers out there.

  79. Nice to see the Lakers making the three tonight. Now work on those free throws

  80. Really buying into this defensive system. And we still scored a lot of points. Now, to see how it all works out when Bynum comes back.

  81. I keep watching this Knick team thinking, “Man, this team could use a cagey veteran point guard to settle the offense down. Someone like…Chauncey Billups.”

  82. That was one ugly game. I don’t think the Lakers played well – I think the Knicks played terribly…

    Lakers were a little foul happy there for awhile. And often on offense you could tell they were too hesitant to take the shot.

    Gotta like the win – but still required too much Kobe. The offense basically stopped in the 4th until Kobe came back in and became the facilitator.

  83. WOW!!!! They just trashed Bynum!!! It’s starting, they’re primeing us for his departure.

  84. Not an ugly win. A very nice win, because the end of the 3rd was the only bad part for us.

  85. Luke has zero confidence in his shot. Clock with two second left and he still didn’t toss one up.

  86. @Cdog, Knicks played terribly because of a relentless Defense by the Lakers. Gotta Love that defense. The offense will come as they actually get to practice it.

  87. Busboy4me, seriously I need to see this “Bynum is a cancer” article

  88. The Lakers were called for alot of fouls they did not commit. Just in the same way that the Knicks did not get all the fouls called on them that they committed.

  89. Busboys/83: the Times has been trashing Bynum for years. This is not a new, surprising development.

  90. I actually thought the Lakers committed a lot of fouls. And while I appreciate the shooting percentage, the Knicks couldn’t buy wide open shots all night.

    After watching the OKC/Dallas game… the two offenses tonight were just bad….

  91. Like the amount of run for Blake and Barnes–would like to see 30 MPG for Blake. Denver lost tonight, but the Lawson/Miller/Afflalo/Fernandez/
    Brewer backcourt is excellent. Something to watch on Sat and Sun.

  92. Off topic, but damn if Kevin Harlan doesn’t need to quit telling everyone where each player went to college every time down the floor.

    We know Carmelo played for Syracuse; we know Barnes was a UCLA Bruin; we know Blake went to Maryland. STFU already with the colleges.

    It’s as annoying as the many Joel Meyers-isms none of us miss, like “So that’s the way it begins” and “short-corner three.”

  93. I want to see if this good defense holds up. The biggest problem with this team last year is they just could not get the big stop. I want to see this team in the top 5 of the NBA in opponent field goal percentage.

  94. If the Bynum article is from TJ Simers, it’s not even worth a read. Simers is out to just stir sh*t up with any of his columns.

  95. Solid victory & we’re looking sharper n sharper with each outing (not to say that there wasn’t periods of sloppiness in this game) .. Should be 3-1, but hopefully we’ll take that giveaway to the Bulls as a learning experience .. Damn near 2am here in NYC, so it’s time to shut it down. But @ least I’ll be able to talk a lil’ bit of s**t to my co-workers tomorrow .. Later Comrades.

  96. The Black Mamba is back.

    That is all.

  97. @Tra, have fun but remember the Lakers have to come to NY.

  98. The new Simers column is actually amazingly sensible and well-reasoned…a nice answer to all of the emotional histrionics around here and everywhere else concerning this team.

    Ask this year’s Philadelphia Eagles how much winning the offseason means. After signing all of the “top” free agents, and being the consensus Super Bowl favorites, they need a win this weekend just to finish .500.

    TNT was discussing Bynum’s parking violations like they just happened during the X-mas season, but that story came out many months ago. He clearly has some maturing to do, but he is a smart young man who has put more work into improving his game over the past few years than Dwight Howard ever has.