Preview and Chat: The New York Knicks

Emile Avanessian —  December 25, 2012

Records: Lakers 13-14 (11th in the West). Knicks 20-7 (2nd in the East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 106.3 (6th in NBA), Knicks 109.8 (2nd in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 102.2 (15th in NBA), Knicks 102.4 (16th in NBA)
Projected starting lineups: Lakers: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Devin Ebanks, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard
Knicks: Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Ronnie Brewer, Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton
Injuries: Lakers: Steve Blake (out); Knicks: Amar’e Stoudemire, Iman Shumpert, Rasheed Wallace (all out)

Who knew having Steve Nash at the point is beneficial to winnings basketball games?

Through 36 minutes on Saturday night, however, the Lakers, who fell behind by as many 14 points in the second half and trailed the Warriors by 13 heading into the fourth quarter, tried valiantly to sully Nash’s return by adding yet another brick to the cathedral of disappointment that is the early days of the 2012-13 season. Dwight Howard was whistled for a pair of fouls in the game’s opening five minutes and had seen the floor for all of 12 minutes before picking up his fifth 12 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Called upon by Necessity (the dude manning the PA system in his head – little known fact), Kobe Bryant fired up the chuck wagon, delivering a staggering 41 attempts (and a lone, unsuccessful free throw) in 44 minutes in the vicinity of the bucket. Of the smorgasbord of heaves, 16 found paydirt, and Kobe wound up with 34 points (plus 10 rebounds, five assists and a steal).

Before we move on, a morsel of perspective: on January 22, 2006, Kobe took the floor for 42 minutes and attempted 46 shots. That night, he scored 81 points.

Another perhaps? Prior to Saturday night, in the 16+ seasons since Bean entered the NBA, 14 times (eight of them his own) had an NBAer attempted at least 40 shots in a game. On none of these occasions did said player fail to score at least 40, with just three efforts falling short of 45. So, yeah…

HOWEVAH…

Despite it all, the largely-undeserved-until-it-was-in-their-grasp OT triumph over the Dubs is perhaps the ideal opening verse for this (at full strength) Laker squad. In addition to pulling the team to within a single victory of the comically elusive .500 mark, the Lakers’ most recent most significant victory of the season was accompanied by certain takeaways that augur well for the full-strength version of this team:

For a guy who has not played competitive ball since Halloween, Steve Nash was spectacular. Conditioning and reacclimation to the speed of the game are the primary focuses of many players’ returns to action following serious lower body injuries. Nash hit the hardwood running… and driving, probing and backpicking. 41 minutes, 12 points on eight shots, nine dimes, a pair of steals, a huge crunch time triple in the fourth quarter and a picture-perfect runner to ice the game in overtime.

And Kobe let him!

It’s been my contention since this team was assembled that from both a talent and personality perspective, Nash resides in the exclusive neighborhood of players in possession of Kobe’s unconditional respect. It was glorious to actually watch it unfold.

Metta. We joke about his idiosyncrasies – and he is certainly not without his flaws – MWP’s willingness to sacrifice for the good of the team with nary gripe nor lapse in effort is remarkable. And he’s only just begun to feel the Nash Effect. A monster inside and out on Saturday and the spark for the Lakers’ fourth quarter comeback, provided not only the effort that so personifies his game, but efficient productivity the Lakers have too often lacked. Whether the three threes and uber-efficient 20 make a cameo on Christmas Day remains to be seen, but his work rate and tenacity perfectly complement the style of the maestro now at the reins.

Speaking of which, let’s talk some Jesus’ birthday, huh?

At noon local time at Staples, in their latest attempt to claw back to break-even, the Lakers square off against the Eastern Conference powerhouse that has exceeded not only its own preseason expectations, but the Lakers’ lofty set as well. A third of their schedule in the books – and 12 days removed from a comfortable victory over a Nash-/Pau-less Laker team – the New York Knicks head west on a 60-win pace. Though their perimeter assault has been relegated to the slums of “top third in the league,” Carmelo and Company remain one of the revelations of this NBA season, with an Effective Field Goal Percentage ranking fifth in the league (51.8%; the Lakers rank sixth, at 50.9%) and an offense trailing only the Oklahoma City Thunder in terms of efficiency.

None of this, of course, is news to the Lakers, who on December 13 at MSG saw up close the swift and blinding manner in which the Knicks – namely, the aforementioned Mr. Anthony – are able to deploy their attack. That night, Carmelo buried a trio of triples inside of 150 seconds, and racked up 22 of the Knicks’ 41 first quarter points. The Knicks ultimately opened up a 26-point cushion and appeared to be cruising to a laugher until a left ankle injury brought Carmelo’s evening to untimely end, just five minutes into the second half, and opened the door for a Lakers comeback that trimmed the margin to just six points, though a combined 67 from Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith, Ray Felton and Steve Novak was enough to preserve a Knick victory.

For all of the frustration that has permeated this campaign for the Lakers, this was the outing in which rock bottom was achieved. I used “achieved” because at that point in time everyone associated with the Lakers – players, management, coaches, fans – needed to stare into the abyss of abject mediocrity (at the time, a generous assessment) before refusing to go quietly into that Manhattan night and ultimately looking to a brighter day ahead. The Lakers are unbeaten in four games since, with road wins against the Wizards and 76ers, a comeback victory at home over the Bobcats and the aforementioned W over the Dubs.

This afternoon, the Lakers look to truly right the ship. Their full complement of talent (ex-Steve Blake) finally in tow, some momentum built and an opportunity to even their record against a premier foe on their home floor, the opportunity lies before them to notch their greatest signature victory of the season. For the first time in a long time, they enter the game favored at both backcourt spots. What will prove vital is the ability of the wing defenders (primarily Metta and Devin Ebanks) to sap the efficiency from Carmelo Anthony’s offensive game, while making the Knicks’ talisman expend some energy defensively, and hopefully offsetting some of his inevitably significant production.

Finally, we arrive at the middle, where Tyson Chandler is in the midst of one of his most prolific seasons. Averaging 12.8 and nearly 10 rebounds per game and shooting a goofy 70% from the field (13.6, 11.4 and 66.7 over his last five), more than anyone not named Carmelo, Chandler will set the tone for the Knicks. The Lakers can simply ill-afford a repeat of Saturday night from Dwight Howard, and, in addition, will need quality minutes – not only as a defensive rebounder and high post passer, but as a rim protector – from Pau Gasol, with Jordan Hill, seemingly no longer “out of the rotation” adding to the Lakers’ dilemma in the middle.

Knicks blogs: Both Knickerblogger and Posting and Toasting do a fantastic job of covering the Knicks. Give both a read. Additionally, P&T’s Seth Rosenthal and I got together on the I Go Hard Now podcast last week, where we talked all things Laker and Knick.

Where you can watch: This is a noon Pacific tip. Watch the national telecast on ABC. You can also listen at ESPN Radio 710AM.

 

In closing, huge thanks to the gang here at FB&G for continuing to bang out some of the best Lakers coverage – and letting me do whatever it is that I do. Also, thanks to everyone swinging by to check out our analytical styling’s. Want to wish you all and your families a happy and healthy holiday. Everyone enjoy the game!

Emile Avanessian

Posts

86 responses to Preview and Chat: The New York Knicks

  1. Good start in spite of the fact that Metta did not start on CA.Merry Xmas to all.

  2. Those uniforms bite!

  3. Off to a good start. Didn’t like the Melo/Morris matchup, but MD’A scrapped it pretty quickly.

  4. Morris guarding Carmelo was a real great idea, only cost the Lakers about 9 points before MWP checked in…

  5. Gasol for 3? Wow.

  6. Has Pau turned into a 7 foot shooting guard? Confusing.

  7. Yes he has Ko

  8. GO LAKERS!!

  9. Kobe is amazing. Nice first quarter. The Lakers looked a bit confused for a moment and allowed Smith 5 quick points. They have got to play honest D and stay at home on the 3 pt. shooters.

  10. Camby has officially the ugliest shot I have ever seen

  11. Bah Pau – finish the shot – don’t look at the ref every single time you miss.

  12. For a man who calls for more post touches, Pau sure has struggled – going back to last year – to convert in the opportunities he does get. Bumped off his spot by smaller players more than I can ever remember in his championship years. A lot of it is due to lack of spacing and constantly worrying about perimeter players in his lap, but at some point – if you fancy yourself one of the most effective low post scorers in the league – you find a way to adjust and be effective.

  13. Pau has got to play big on the block against smaller players. That was a very poor shot he put up against Brewer.

  14. Joe M….

    Noah of Chicago has an ugly shot, too!

  15. Meeks day so far: brick, brick, brick. All under 30 seconds

  16. Can we please hit an open 3.

  17. Meeks can’t hit the broadside of a barn today, killing us right now.

  18. Why doesn’t pay just shoot a hook shot. It’s mind boggling how he continues to try to turn into players and shoot a jump shot 5 feet away from the basket. Stop complaining and start producing.

  19. That’s the difference between us and the Knicks. They hit all of their open 3′s, but our supposed best shooter, Meeks, keeps bricking his.

  20. Meeks should hope it gets a basket under the tree. Wide open bricks,

  21. Lazy D from Lakers on that last offensive board. Lazy D won’t get it done.

  22. Good to see MD’A not rushing Kobe and Nash back into the game.

  23. What a totally b.s. foul call.

  24. They set Dwight up for that travel. Gave him the ball too soon.

  25. I CANNOT BELIEVE THE BAD CALLS THAT GO AGAINST THE LAKERS EVERY DAMN GAME i KNOW WE HAVE TO PLAY THRU IT BUT WOW

  26. Wow 4th TO for Steve. Metta best dude on the court again.

  27. Metta is gonna have Melo rest of game – can guard him inside and out. Doing a good job starting to get in his head

  28. As far as the majority of bad calls. Its the ref Derrick stafford. He always tight on the whistle for the lakers and loose with it against the lakers.

  29. Metta is crawling under Melo’s skin. Dwight needs to get involved. This is prime time. Lakers are getting some good looks. Meeks needs to settle down.

  30. Feels like Nash has played 2 minutes so far

  31. Metta willing us through the 2nd. 7 straight point and another 3 now. So needed…

  32. Kobe again zero defense on Smith. Lock him down he is only hot guy!

  33. Can tell this is totally diff team compared to a week ago or so – little bit of an offensive drough but Lakers are right there despite it. Nash already has 7 assists and him and kobe both got some rest.

  34. I am starting a Pau Should Stop Taking 3′s Club.

  35. Nashes play calling is huge

  36. Stupid, stupid foul by MWP after a stellar 2nd Q.

  37. Having Pau shoot more than 1 3pt. shot a game is a f****ing drag!
    Mamba & World Peace gettin´ it done!

  38. Joe

    Bet you won’t have to worry about that soon.

    Good half and great to see Kobe and Steve under control.

  39. I feel we could be playing so much better, but so could the knicks

  40. Metta had a great 2nd quarter on both sides of the ball. Nash is much better defensively than I thought. He is a very smart defender. Dwight and Pau have to make a bigger impact on the game. Pau is passing well, but soon teams will play him for the pass if he isn’t more aggressive looking for his shot. All in all, a very entertaining half. These Lakers look a lot more cohesive than the pre-Nash version.

  41. Good game so far. Glad to see good D against the 2nd best offense in the NBA.

    Biggest complaint is the mono-color uniforms. Knicks look like traffic cones. And why generic white for the Lakers instead of purple or yellow? (Of course the latter might have made them look like eggplants or pieces of cheese.)

  42. Why does Wilbon still “try” to analyze basketball?

  43. JR Smith is a very streaky guy. He took and made some tough shots.

  44. The BKN charcoal unis look pretty decent but all the other ones just look goofy.

    Nice of VanGundy to set record straight on Nashes D – he’s moving goof again today. Would be nice for Lakers to push pace a little more and get Pau/howard moving to the hoop. In agreenace w whoever posted earlier – can’t give howard ball at 3 pt line and expect him to get that dribble in – was a brutal travel lol

  45. Snoopy – and that really is the problem with Gasol’s role as a PF. His base isn’t strong enough for him to post up smaller players, which essentially gives all our contending competition free roam to play their stretch fours (LeBron, Carmelo, Durant, etc.) and makes it a mismatch for us and us only.

    In the past we have almost always been able to compensate for that by having him at centre until 2011, when Bynum really emerged. But ever since, this flaw in Pau’s game has gradually been revealed – and more and more teams are slowly catching on.

  46. Joe M. Patience. Expect move by Jan. 15th. Trust! I called the Brown move to the day. Trust.

  47. I did not write that last message regarding the trades. Someone is trolling

  48. That is not me above. Some fool is just using other names. Get a life there bud.

  49. Ko, I call bull on that rumour.

  50. Is that Rihanna & Chris Brown courtside? Forgive and forget!

  51. I know the rules and would never write something so stupid. There us a clone clown out there.

    Please help out there Darius.

  52. The Knicks outside shooting is keeping them on the lead.

  53. this is frustrating to watch, the Lakers look STIFF!!!!!

  54. It is not me. It is some moran with no life

  55. I can’t believe how poor Pau has become. 2 for 9, miss a dunk and playing so weak. Sad to see from a once great player.

  56. Not my post either

  57. Man Metta is really someone u hate to go up against but love him as a teammate. “We should celebrate blood!”

  58. don´t fret Ko, we´re with you brother

  59. Mike D showing some D on Felton. Kobe miss 2 FT,ball don’t lie?

  60. KB24 better make up for those two misses at the line

  61. Doex this site track Ip address? This moran needs to be banned petmanently from this site

  62. That play with MD’A On the sideline is a good example of why coaches need to be seated. A lot of coaches are all over the sideline throughout the game.

  63. I just don’t know why Pau didn’t put Melo on his wallet on that drive. That is not winning basketball. Pau is just too nice.

  64. OK,now this jerk is impersonating me as well. Apparently, he’s had too much Xmas eggnog.

  65. Good help d from Nash, not my posts above.

  66. Purple

    It’s Xmas and understandable. Just shows how good it normally is the other 363 days a year. Let’s just win baby!

  67. Nice to see the Lakers playing with a sense of urgency. Dwight is playing some good defense and setting great screens. The entire team is putting up a strong defensive effort.

  68. Perfect pass from Nash

  69. that´s not my comment at 2:17 – later everyone

  70. Great work by nash on d and makin the effort to keep chandler off the boards. Smartest player on court

  71. Interesting ticky tack final fouls on Chandler and Artest.

    And hilarious, Pau on Kidd defensively.

  72. How the heck did they give that loose ball to the Knicks?

  73. Snoopy – there you go, Gasol posting up Anthony and getting some result.

  74. My Gish has Pau become such a average non-Clutha guy.

  75. Another non-comment above. I quit guys. Good xmas and I hope we win it.

    See ya all.

  76. Live by JR,die by JR this time. Same,I cannot believe the refs didn’t want to make the obvious call that everyone worldwide see on the screen.

  77. GASOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

  78. Big boys pants: ON

  79. Pau with the big basket to claim some serious redemption!

  80. 5 in a row baby! Really big big win against one of the top 3 team now.

  81. I’ll take that W. Well done boys. Let’s keep this roll going.

  82. While the Knicks are not a Top 3 team in the league at the moment as posted above (Top 6 perhaps, but certainly not Top 3) this was easily the Lakers’ best played and most satisfying end-to-end game of the year so far. Nash makes a huge difference – glad he was allowed to take the reins and do what he does.

  83. Knicks played pretty well and easily could have ran away with this game. But the lakers for.the second straight game kept their composure for a good come from behind win. Nash was good but i am hoping we can get even more production from him and we will need it

  84. I dont believe Nash was brought in to score 20ppg he is here to run the offense, set up his teammates and be a theat from deep in short, be the general he is. Games like today are what i expect from him, no more no less. Im sure he will have his 20+ nights but that wont be the norm. This is not the Suns where he had to carry the team. The Knicks played very good but the Lakers are the better team when healthy, and the defense in the 4th was the best all season. This team is on the verge of a major run and things are falling into place. This team will be a monster very very soon

  85. I’m still worried about bench production. I don’t really consider Metta a bench player.

  86. Paul,

    Chris Paul and the Clippers have Jamal Crawford coming off the bench scoring 16 a night. For years the Spurs have employed Ginobli as a bench player. You can believe whatever you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that Peace ain’t starting.

    Great gut-it-out win tonight. Everyone played defense for stretches, and Kobe stayed pretty close to his mark, only leaving his man free at the 3-point line once by my count. JR Smith puts the fear of god into me.