I thought “WHOMP” was the best way I could describe this game in one-word. (For those not in the know, Whomps are the big stone blocky thingies from the Mario series that slam down and crush Mario into a pancake if he sits under them for too long.) With a final score of 113-96, the Lakers won convincingly in MSG, pounding the Knicks in the paint and playing solid defense while Kobe Bryant put on a show.
Both teams played fairly sloppily in the 1st quarter, the Lakers having 4 early turnovers to the Knicks 3. Raymond Felton got off to a hot start, going 4-4 for 11 points in the 1st quarter with 3 assists and 2 steals. While this was great for my fantasy team, it didn’t allow the Knicks to get any separation from the Lakers, because Kobe Bryant was on-fire, NBA Jam style. Kobe scored 19 1st quarter points, while going 3-3 on threes, some of them from way beyond the arc. The hot starts from Felton and Kobe seemed to offset one another, and the game was close going into the 2nd quarter, 30-28 Lakers.
The 2nd quarter was where the Lakers really began asserting their dominance over the Knicks. They began pounding the ball inside to Pau Gasol, who shot 9-16 on the night for 20 points to go with 6 boards. When Kobe returned with 5:48 left in the quarter, the Lakers had opened up a 10 point lead, mostly thanks to Pau’s dominance and the shooting of Shannon Brown. Meanwhile, the Knicks really struggled to score, netting only 20 points for the quarter, going into halftime down 48-62. It would have been even worse if Landry Fields hadn’t tipped in a missed free throw by Amar’e Stoudemire with 0.8 seconds left in the half, which led Kobe to unleash an F-bomb which was seen (not heard) on the national TV broadcast.
To be honest, I started watching StarCraft II livestreams after the first half, because it really felt like the game was over. The Knicks weren’t playing well, and they really didn’t look like they had a lot of fight in them. As I peaked at my stream In the 2nd half, I saw the Knicks make small runs, cutting the Laker lead to 11 or 9, only to have the Lakers come back, score a couple times and get a couple stops, pushing the lead back up to 15 or 16. The threesome of Kobe, Pau, and Bynum were pretty unstoppable against the undersized and undermanned Knick defense, Kobe going 12-17 for 33 points and 10 boards, while Bynum finished 5-8 shooting for 12 points and 9 boards.
I think the real difference between this game being a 17 point win versus a 7-8 point win was the play of the bench. It’s been a while since the Laker bench put together a fairly complete game, but this one was pretty close. Lamar, the “Mr. Consistency” of this season, shot 5-10 for 14 points with 3 boards and 3 assists, while Steve Blake had 8 points and 7 assists, and Shannon Brown had 6-10 for 12 points (to go along with two monstrous dunks, one in transition, another on a horrendous lob from Blake that Shannon somehow managed to convert). Even Luke Walton shot 4-6 for 8 points with 4 assists and 3 boards, which will probably be his best game of the season. And as a sign of how one-sided the game was in the end, Joe Smith played 3 minutes. Seriously, the correlation between Joe Smith playing and the Lakers blowing an opponent out is like 90%, with the other 10% being the Lakers getting blown out themselves.
Overall, the Lakers played pretty well, and the Knicks played pretty badly. Combine those two, and you get a 17 point Whomping. The Lakers now move to 4-0 on this current Grammy’s road trip, with a showdown in Orlando coming on Sunday.