Lakers outwork Knicks en route to 127-96 romp

Daniel Rapaport —  March 26, 2014

Newly appointed Knicks president Phil Jackson was on hand to witness the type of performance he hopes to eradicate in the coming years. After a hot start in which they scored the contest’s first eight points, the listless Knicks allowed the shorthanded Lakers, playing without Kobe, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, to go a combined 34 of 46 in the second and third quarters. When all was said and done, LAL had put together one of its better performances on the year in handing the Knicks a 127-106 defeat. LA managed to score fifty-one points in the third quarter, a franchise record.

This was one of the few games I’ve been lucky enough to attend this year, and the atmosphere inside Staples was surprisingly lively when you consider what’s transpired this season. The Lakers seemed to feed off the energy and the knowledge that the game was nationally televised. When you watch a game in person, the little things that you notice when you watch games not on television- stuff like effort, communication on defense, and hustle- becomes much clearer. And yesterday, it was shockingly apparent that the Lakers wanted to win more than the Knicks did. It’s as simple as that. New York was slow on defensive rotations, slow in their closeouts on three-point shooters, just plain old slow.

The Lakers on the other hand, were not. It was the same formula that helped LAL start off hot decently: up-tempo, push the pace type offense relying heavily on ball movement and three-pointers and defense designed to keep the opponent out of the paint. It was refreshing to see the Lakers play some effective defense for once- they were able to make things tough on Carmelo Anthony, who missed his first seven shots (mostly jumpers). While Anthony did eventually begin to hit those jumpers, the game was well out of hand before he got cooking. What I’m trying to say here is, Anthony was mostly a non-factor despite his 29 points.

Iman Shumpert was completely invisible, as has been the unfortunate truth for Knicks fans recently. He’s really not developed nearly the way anyone in the league or the Knicks’ front office anticipated, and it feels like ages ago that he was regarded as a future building block who could effectively guard LeBron in playoff series’ for New York. If I’d have told you two years ago that Iman Shumpert would be averaging 6.7 points and have a PER under 10 this year, you would have been disappointed in the way he’s developed.

In contrast, the Lakers were excellent last night. Xavier Henry was impressive in his return, going 8-11 for 22 points off the bench in only 23 minutes of action in his first game since returning from a wrist injury. His legs looked springy-fresh and he seemed genuinely excited to be back on the court. That’s something that I think people–me included– have kind of forgotten this year: yes, it’s been a terrible season and the Lakers aren’t anything near a good team, but the players are still living their dream, still playing in the NBA every night for one of, if not the, league’s most famous franchise. For those who don’t have the title-or-bust mentality (so for everyone except Kobe, really), that’s still pretty damn cool.

Swaggy P was excellent for the second straight game, putting up 20 and adding to the historical tone of the evening by notching his sixth 4-point play of the year- a Laker record. He was the first one in Carmelo’s ear all night, as you’d expect and want, as well. Jodie Meeks, who might warrant a few votes in the Most Improved Player voting, hit four of the Lakers’ 18 3-pointers, just one shy of the record set previously this year. It was the type of three-point barrage that Mike D’Antoni’s teams muster when they’re playing well against a team that didn’t come to play. And that was exactly the case- the Knicks really never seemed to interested in putting together a run to get back in the game and didn’t seem all too upset when it was clear they’d lose.

In a season filled with disappointments and too many embarrassing score lines, it was nice to the squad hand down a beating of their own. No matter the circumstances, beating the Knicks is always nice- especially in front of Phil Jackson.

Daniel Rapaport


to Lakers outwork Knicks en route to 127-96 romp

  1. The Lakers did better on defense because Pau didnt play. If Pau played, i am definitely sure the Knicks will have a field day inside the paint.
    How about Okafor at center for next season. He can definitely defend the paint and can hit mid range jumper.
    Give D’Antoni a healthy roster and someone who can defend the paint not named Pau, we can be good next year.
    I know there are many MDA haters here, but if you want to blame MDA about his non exustent D or not preaching D, you can blame Rambis who was hired by MDA to help him on the D. Think of that befre you guys hate


  2. You have to give the coaches and players credit for really trying every game. The season may be nearing an end, but the players are still busting their behinds to both get down court and to get back on defense. Sometimes they are out of position and sometimes they are just not good enough defenders, but they do try. These are the type of players we need to fill in around our real talents.

    The starting unit can use one or two of these and the backups need three or four. What we are missing is a couple of starters and a real leader in the 2nd unit. Kobe, Gasol, Nash, and perhaps Hill, + bring in another starter for the 1st unit. Then bring in a leader for the second unit, or perhaps Meeks and/or Henry are getting good enough to lead the 2nd unit and bring in someone else to bang if Hill is in the starting unit.

    If we can, I like the idea of signing Okafor to start at center, then we would have Hill for the 2nd unit.


  3. Is it too early to start a wish list for players to keep next year? I’m really liking the way Henry plays.


  4. Happy birthday, Ko! Happy cake day!


  5. Craig
    Two main reason the defense sense is so bad.
    1-Bad guard defense. Penetrate.
    2-Gasoline can’t stop anyone.

    Let Pau go. Dump Nash and Marshall.

    Find a guard who can guard.
    Find a center who can move his feet.

    Now you have a shot.


  6. Man, SwaggyP has some sway with the team’s spirit. That fire he plays with is infectious. While I want as many ping-pong ball as possible, I’m happy to see the team compete. How sweet would it be to have the team go on a modest run to end this season and get the #1 pick anyway.


  7. Ko,
    I don’t want Pau to play center, but PF; that’s the reason I reacted to the suggested idea of signing Okafor – and he probably would fit our pocket book. I totally agree that Pau shouldn’t be used, if we need a rim defender. He has some value as an off-ball defender because of his smarts and front-to-back agility (not his side-to-side agility – people can easily go around him).

    I just am not sure we can get anyone – draft or free agent – who can equal Pau. This was some of the similar logic the front office used in resigning Kobe – he may never be a top 5 player again, but there is no reason he can’t be in the top 10-15 (probability calculation), based on his smarts and drive, and that is nothing to sneeze at. Don’t give me the money argument, because that was as much a business signing as a leadership and honor one.

    Nash isn’t going to be dumped – for financial, leadership, and honor reasons. Sorry, honor does have some value in this organization – thank goodness, as it is also a draw for veteran players. If he is here and healthy, why not start him and try to have a lock-down defender at the 3 and 5.

    Next year we are still going to have to outscore people, no matter who coaches. It is just that we have to greatly improve our defense, while not killing our shooting. that is one reason I like a number of the players on this year’s team.


  8. I like Meeks, Henry, Bazemore, Hill, Farmar, Young, and Kelly. However, I think we will lose at least two among Hill, Farmar, and Young and one more among Meeks, Henry, and Bazemore. It is likely we keep Kelly and I think he could turn into an adequate 2nd team PF in today’s NBA. That means I think we will only be able to retain 4 of the players I would like to keep. If that happens, I would think Johnson is next in line to keep and I would only keep Marshal if we don’t draft a PG, retain Farmar, or resign Blake.

    I count a roster of 12 + our draft pick.


  9. Xavier Henry showing some nice potential.
    He’s a keeper I’d say and most here seem to agree.
    I also like Bazemore’s game although he’s still a bit raw.
    I’ve been a fan of Farmar but he can’t seem to stay healthy. So I wonder if he’ll be asked back.
    Nash is another question mark as regards his health and if he returns it’s for one last hurrah, not for the future…Marshall is a clever passer but sort of a strange player overall. So our PG spot is essentially open.
    I’d like to see Jordan Hill retained and I believe he’s seen just enough PT not to be completely soured on the Laker experience.
    I can’t say the same for Kaman, who still sounds like a likeable, reasonable, even witty guy and I’m sorry that we’re likely to see him go.
    Pau is a huge “?” since he’ll likely get some nice offers elsewhere that Kobe will try to dissuade him from taking.
    I only see Pau considering remaining here if Dantoni leaves.
    I’m sure they’ll retain Kelly inexpensively and his upside isn’t bad.
    I’m in the minority here but I’m not a Meeks fan. Yes he’s improved but to me he’s fairly one-dimensional. In my mind he’s a backup player but he’ll probably be overvalued and I hope he isn’t retained unless it’s for a reasonable price. To me, a Bazemore has more potential.
    Wes Johnson is another ok player that can come off the bench and play some D and catch a lob for a dunk – but his jump shot is so suspect and his game so inconsistent I’d let him walk unless he stays for the minimum.
    Young may stick around but like Meeks he’s best suited as a backup shooting guard or SF and how many of those do we need? That’s the same position as Henry, Meeks, Bazemore…
    Personally, I’d retain:
    Pau….(8 mil?)
    Sacre (cuz I guess we have no choice!)
    Farmar / Marshall

    That’s 9.
    One draft pick.
    One or two FAs depending on cap room.

    And a new coach.


  10. Spitfire, I blame the coaches. If the assistant isn’t doing a proper job on defense, then the head coach takes over. And more, why would you, as an head coach, need a defensive assistant specialized on defense? Are you that bad on that side of the ball that you need help? If that’s the case, then you should be an assistant coach because you’re simply not good enough to be a head coach. That’s the way it is almost everywhere in the world…

    Anyway, most of us are not MDA haters at all. We actually gave him a shot. He’s just terrible and injuries cannot explain all that’s happened. Remember that the complaints about him go way back to the time in NY. But anyway, I like this line of thought… break all losing records in a franchise and you don’t say anything. Trash a bad team with no heart because you caught fire from the outside and announce to the world that this game proves that your coach is actually a good coach. People should be consistent on their views regardless of wins or losses.

    Here’s the thing that happens in every sport. Sometimes a good coach with a good roster will lose games against weak teams. Sometimes a bad coach with a bad roster will win games against better teams. That’s why the game is played.

    Regarding our roster, I’m with Craig W. on this one. We won’t keep many of these many players next year and that’s actually a good thing, because most of them are clueless on defense. I’d be happy if we kept Hill, Farmar, Young and Henry. And I’d be extremly happy to see the likes of Marshall and Sacre out of here…

    But I’m happy we won a game. Losing too much can lead to bad habits in the future.


  11. These are the type of Knick losses that will lead ‘Melo to leave New York for a better title opportunity. Hearing Houston is gaining. Very scary thought: Harden, ‘Melo, & Howard. Can be done in sign & trade w/ NY getting expiring balloon contracts of J. Lin (return of Linsanity?) & Asik plus plus young Parson. This would allow Knicks to be THE big free agency player in 2015.

    Here’s hoping Phil can convince ‘Melo to stay in NYC. Much better move for the Lakers :-).


  12. Renato
    Completely agree. Henry-Hill, Young and Farmer. People overrate Meeks. He is mostly out of position on defense and looks good in MD offense. The rest should go. Kelly will never be more then a pump fake away from 12 man and Johnson is Shannon Brown. Pau will take more money and Marshall might be the worst starting guard in NBA. Base more has upside if Pops or a teaching coach was here.

    Need new players with new coach to go around Kobe. Biggest need a real PG and a rim protecter. Find this and you have a 8th seed next year and better tv ratings.


  13. Warren Wee Lim March 27, 2014 at 8:01 am

    I’d like to piggyback on what Craig mentioned about HONOR. The Lakers care about legacy, loyalty and other intangibles that free agents would like to have from their teams. Dirk has such from the Mavs… Duncan, Manu and TP has it from Spurs… and just too bad how Danny Ainge murdered Pierce’s legacy by trading him. The Lakers do this for Kobe, also for Pau by not trading him eventually. Steve Nash either plays, or gets waived (not stretched) next season.

    Steve Nash would like to play, but his body disallows him. Sure he wants the money too, but don’t you? I predict we let Nash go into retirement but his salary remains on our books for 2014. Remember, Nash’s almost-10M salary is already halfway the needed max we have for 2015.

    As for 2014 off-season, we have to face it with what we have: Kobe, Marshall, Sacre, Draft pick.

    All the rest of our players are waiting for the call as the Lakers gut out negotiations with other players and become the fillers. The Draft pick we have will certainly render someone jobless from the Lakers POV. We have lots of good players but some of them would have to look for a contract elsewhere.

    I have a strong feeling Farmar is out to prove he can be our lead guard. He showed flashes of that this season only that his hammy has interfered with his audition. In a sense, if he would sign a 2-yr deal with 2-3 million, he would expire the same time as Kobe and it would represent a year where the Lakers have the most flexibility to spend.

    Nick Young wants to be a Laker and we should want him back. Problem is he would require to get paid too. If we somehow managed to sign him for like 3-4M range then I would rather pay that to Swaggy P than make a mistake elsewhere. Here’s someone we want, and wants to be here.

    Jordan Hill, out of necessity (more on this later) needs to come on board. The problem I have with him is that other teams will be outbidding us for his services, and whats sad is we might allow that to happen. He has a problem with staying healthy and scoring consistently, and MDA’s supposed dislike for his game. But if we gave him the starting job, he might flourish into this role (small ball C) and a conventional rebounding/hustling PF.

    Jodie Meeks is probably our most-consistent player all year long. Its quite sad that we would be losing him to a mid-level contract from a team that wants a consistent 3-pt shooter elsewhere. Whats sadder is we will be needing his skillset AFTER we get our star. But we kinda can’t afford to keep him.

    Ryan Kelly has unfinished business. No reason to believe he won’t be back, plus he has flourished here, he would be a lock to keep after we’re done deciding our players’ fate.

    Chris Kaman is gone. Lets not even talk about it.

    Xavier Henry presents a very very good opportunity for us to lock up a very good player at a very good price. I would like to give him a 4-yr 10M deal. Kill me but having a player that cheap for that long is a key piece of a championship. He has limitations, but at 2.5M….

    Kent Bazemore is someone thats tied to MDA but could very well be our Ariza. Thats if we don’t sign the real one. I would offer him a 2-yr deal with team option on year 2.

    Wesley Johnson is someone thats really versatile, had good moments, and might get a deal like that of Bazemore’s. I would consider him as a possible loss, possible keep. If we get to keep Bazemore, we might opt to keep him at the low-level pay if he wants to stay.

    Which brings me to our most important (or not) free agent, Pau Gasol. Does he present the best possible chance to win now? or is he impeding younger players from developing? Would you risk enraging Kobe by choosing not to sign him?

    Very important to note that Pau Gasol’s next Laker contract may be his last, and something that we would have to commit on. I say this because he is now eligible for a No-Trade Clause, something he will ask for. The NTC is available for players that have been in the league for atleast 8 seasons and have played for the same team for atleast 4. He qualifies here and his agent will surely ask for it. If you want him, I don’t blame you. My opinion, let him go.

    Pau Gasol by himself is worthy of debate. If he was acceptable to a 2-yr 20M deal, would you take him or decline him? Do you think you can get better player or set of players s at 10M per season? I love the guy to death and will forever cherish him as one of the favorite players EVER. Part of my Lakers rushmore. But I also advocate letting him go.


  14. Excellent story by Kevin Ding on Mike D on Team Stream

    Dark Days for Lakers’ D’Antoni, Who Seems to Let the Losing Defeat Him


  15. Ko,

    The thing about Kelly is that he’s cheap and can fill out the roster. Johnson I’m not so sure about what to think of him. Obviously he’s not a 3pt shooter, but I think MDA’s system is not suitable for him at all as he’s guarding guys much taller and heavier than him. I think Wes can be retained for cheap and maybe a new coach would be good for him.


  16. On an MDA team if the opposing team won’t close out on 3pt shots MDA’s team is going rack up a lot of 3’s as happened vs NY. If MDA stays as coach the Lakers need to get someone who can force open 3 attempts for team mates. I’m really high on Exum and he is a guy who can force open shots. Pretty good for any system but really good for MDA.

    The team is almost a blank slate for next year. Management needs to quickly decide what they want their team to look like going forward. I don’t think MDA is a bad coach if you go out and get players that fit his system. But if management didn’t like what they saw this year they need to choose a new coach and get players that fit whoever is installed as coach.

    Keep in mind I think this year management needs to be looking to fill out their core starters. Build a solid nucleus of a team then fill in the All Star Talent later when Nash’s contract expires.


  17. Must go : Nash, Marshall. There is nothing heroic or admirable about Nash’s attempt to squeeze out a bit more of a career when it is clear he simply cannot get healthy. I will gain a modicum of respect for him if he takes a medical retirement now. Marshall simply does not have the requisite athleticism to play point guard in the NBA.

    Should go: Johnson, Meeks. You could make a case for Johnson as a vet minimum guy but his inconsistency is maddening. Meeks is a great guy who plays hard but will probably get offers greater than the Lakers should offer for a career backup. Good on the ball defender, particularly on ones, but often over matched against twos.

    Maybe keep: Farmar, Hill, Kaman, Gasol All three have durability issues, all three have value at the right price. D’Antoni goes, they stay. Pau likely gone for a richer contract.

    Should keep: Henry, Bazemore, Kelly, Young. Henry may get better offers, I believe we have an option on Bazemore, Kelly will be cheap and is a developing big with some valuable skills (will have to improve his distance shot release by about 10 seconds), and Young wants to be a Laker and has the game and charisma that fans love.

    Wouldn’t mind it all: A buyout of Kobe that frees him to join the Knicks and frees the Lakers from cap hell.


  18. Maybe Keep: all ‘four’ ha!


  19. This is an article at Grantland about the Mavericks. The difference between the Mavs and the Lakers starts at the top…and what a difference it is!


  20. Chris y,

    I like all of those lineups, but if the Lakers really want to contend next season, they will likely have to trade their draft pick for an all star level player. Add an all start to your lineups, and this Laker team can be dangerous.


  21. @LT Mitchell, I don’t get your point. The Lakers are a better run team than the Mavericks and the results show that. Can we all stop the Front Office bashing and take a step back. The new CBA was put in place because teams are jealous of the Lakers success. They put in punitive rules to punish the Lakers for paying players. Just think about that for a second. The Lakers didn’t tell David Stern to expand the league and make it a less competitive league (compared to football). The reality is the Lakers are the best run organization in the modern era. The Lakers traded for Chris Paul and other owners begged the commissioner to rescind the deal. All of a sudden we all want to forget the conflict of interest in the league owning a team. The rest of the league ganged up on the Lakers. The current best team in the league comprises 3 superstars who came together to dethrone the Lakers. I am tired of Lakers fans bashing the Front Office when the entire league is conspiring against the Lakers. The Jealousy is completely annoying but the lack of perspective by some Lakers fans is disheartening.


  22. Chris y: your post may end up getting deleted, but I will say that I do not like the idea of adding Melo to this team. He is an incredible scorer, but a poor defender and has not proven himself to be a leader in the locker room and is on the wrong side of his athletic peak.

    As others much smarter than me have said, the targets this year will be Lowry and probably Kevin Love the following year (of course, if Melo and Durant are available, they will also be courted).


  23. Houston,
    Jerry Buss built the best run organization in sports, but since Jim took over…I hate to break it to you…but the Mavs have been the better run organization for the past four years. Their scouting and coaching have been top notch. They were one of the pioneers in adapting analytics. They are the only team with a full time sports psychologist. They won a championship. They have a brilliant coach who adapts to his players. All this without a $200 million dollar a year TV deal.

    No doubt, Dan Gilbert and other owners conspired against the Lakers, but these owners had nothing to do with the rash hirings of Brown and MDA, or the inability to hold onto Dwight, or giving up valuable draft picks for an aging Nash, or refusing to hire Phil, or the turmoil in the front office, or Laker greats criticizing ownership.

    And yes, the new CBA has made it more difficult on the Lakers…but they still have major advantages over every other team as far as spending ability and the perks that LA and Hollywood have to offer.

    The CP3 deal was a huge blow, but I’m fairly certain that a winner like Jerry Buss would have never used that as an excuse. He would have regrouped and come up with a plan B. As of now, the Cuban/Carlye duo is makes the Jim/DAntoni duo look like amateurs.


  24. Rusty Shackleford March 27, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Lakers Nation has a Throwback Thursday of Kobe hitting a game winner in Milwaukee a few years back. This was the one where, the the Milwaukee League Pass feed, one of the announcers said, “Miss it!” right before Kobe planted the dagger.


  25. All right, going to ignore contract status for the most part and put a wish list together:

    Current roster–asterisk means keep this player:

    Kent Bazemore*
    Kobe Bryant*
    Jordan Farmar*
    Pau Gasol* (after re-signing for less; hopefully $5m, likelier $8m)
    Xavier Henry*
    Jordan Hill*
    Wesley Johnson*
    Kendall Marshall*
    Jodie Meeks*
    Nick Young*
    Chris Kaman
    Ryan Kelly
    Steve Nash
    Robert Sacre
    MarShon Brooks

    Sign a good free agent; Rondo wouldn’t be bad, for instance. The draft pick will be somewhere in the top 6–getting Exum for example would make Rondo superfluous, and at that point someone like Gortat to pair with Gasol would be a good move. But if they slide into the top three, then Embiid (though his back scares me) or Parker would be your guy. Fill in with a little more frontcourt depth, get Steve Blake back to be the second or third PG (depending on Farmar’s development/health next year), and hope everyone stays healthy.

    Then, next summer, throw everything at Kevin Love. Gasol becomes the backup PF in his twilight, and you go to war with (say) Exum/Bryant/Henry/Love/Gortat (or Rondo/Bryant/Henry/Love/Embiid). Second unit is Farmar/Bazemore/Young/Gasol/Hill. Meeks, Johnson, Marshall and a few bigs are the end of the bench.

    Oh, it goes without saying in this situation D’Antoni is bought out at the end of this year and replaced with…someone good. That’s all. MDA got dealt a bad hand with no training camp his first year and injury armageddon this year, but I just don’t think he’s a great fit regardless.


  26. Perhaps there us more to the back stage Kamen then we all know.

    Kamen missed flight due to personal problems.


  27. Reasonable thought is everything is all so much talk until the Lottery is over, and the world knows which collegiate players are in play. It’s expected that the top freshmen will declare, but until those variables are no longer questions, trying to sort out what to do with the current roster as far as who to attempt to keep and who to decline to pursue… in most players’ cases, it’s just too early to know.


  28. KO: I don’t know… could be as simple as he got delayed bc his kid (if he has any) was sick and at the hospital… then again, maybe his last set of salvos at MDA got him fined and he’s really PO’d.


  29. Houston: It is natural for all of us to have short memories and live in the now.

    Here we are, a mere 4 years removed from winning two championship in a row (after 3 straight trip to the finals) and some folks will say they will gladly trade Cuban and his front office for our ownership and FO personnel in a heartbeat. Of course, can you blame them? I mean, Cuban’s one ring is so shiny and the 10 rings our GM has won (3 as a player and 7 as an FO guy) must be so dull by now and are likely not as fancy as Cuban’s ring. – In case you did not notice, I am joking, of course.

    While the Laker’s FO is no where near perfect, it seems to me that some people lack perspective.


  30. I think we all know who supports the front office and who dislikes it, by this time. I also doubt additional comments or facts will really change anyone’s opinion. Ok, now that is a given and let’s stop trying to browbeat each other or beat our chests over how right we are.

    It is far more interesting to think about what the Lakers can do going forward, i.e. who they should draft, who they will be able to keep, who should coach next year’s team. We can’t affect these things, but they do bring out new information for us all to chew on while other teams get eliminated from the playoffs.


  31. Jo Houston…..

    Your post earlier on this thread was very well put and to my way of thinking, very true. The only thing that I part ways with the FO on is hiring MD’A. I couldn’t see hiring a coach with a run and gun philosophy for a team with older stars (Pau and Kobe) who were prolific in the post. Not to mention another wannabe post player in Dwight “I need my touches” Howard. Kudos on those comments!


  32. If…… Mark Cuban was such a good owner and manager, he wouldn’t have broken up a championship team. He never gave his team a chance to repeat. I guess once is enough for some teams.


  33. Warren Wee Lim March 28, 2014 at 5:38 am

    Oh please not Marc Cuban. 1 championship in forever doesn’t make him better than the Lakers.