Lakers 113, Knicks 96

For the second time in three nights, the Knicks played a team from Los Angeles who came into the Garden on the second game of a back-to-back. And, for the second time, the Knicks looked like the more tired team. With their 11th loss in their last 15, the Knicks dropped to .500 for the first time since November 28th, while remaining a game and a half ahead of Philly for the 6th seed in the Conference.

But while Phil Jackson certainly brought a more tested and talented squad to the World’s Most Famous, the Garden’s Charmin-soft rims didn’t seem to know the difference: the Lakers shot a very loud 54%, including a solid 6 for 15 from distance. In fact, of the players who took more than one shot, only Ron Artest (2-9) and Steve Blake (2-5) managed to shoot below 50% from the field. It was the 5th time in 6 games the Knicks have surrendered over 50 for FG%, with the lone exception being a 100-98 loss at Philly a week ago.

Meanwhile, the Knick’ shooting woes continued, as they once again mirrored their opponents’ proficiency with a head-scratching under-50% outing for the 4th time in 5 games. Overall the Knicks shot 41% from the floor, including 5-20 from downtown. The lone bright spot – at least statistically – was Raymond Felton, who banked 20 with a gaudy TS% of 75%. Stat, meanwhile, again had trouble getting to the rim against the Lakers staunch interior, netting 24 on 20 shots. Ironically however, and despite playing in the veritable Laker forest of bigs, Stoudemire managed to grab 10 boards for the first time since pulling down 12 against the Thunder on January 22nd – a string of 8 games that has coincided with an equally confounding overall rebounding famine for the Knicks.

Despite the co-captains being somewhat effective, the rest of the rotation struggled to find a rhythm. Though continuing to show an increasing acumen for taking it to the tin, on this night the whistles were silent for Gallo, who went 4 for 15 (including 0 for 6 from deep) and finished with 12 points and 6 boards in 38 minutes. Fields, who seems to have hit at least a few bricks on the “Rookie Wall” the last few games, was deafeningly silent, going 2 for 6 (0 for 1 from 3) en route to a +/- (-17) that was second only to Wilson Chandler’s -18. For his part, Chandler – who had the unfortunate task of guarding Gasol for much of the night – played with slightly more confidence than we’ve seen in the last few games, netting 13 (5-10 from the field), 5 rebounds and 4 assists in a heavy 34 minutes off the bench.

Kobe did his Kobe thing in the first quarter, picking his spots and channeling performances past in tossing up 19 on 5-7 shooting, before finishing with an irritating 33 and a TS% of 82. For a while the Knicks kept up, and trailed by only 2 at the end of 1. For much of the first quarter and the first part of the second, the ball was moving on O, guys were getting open looks, and Ray in particular was honed in, scoring 14 and dishing out 4 assists en route to a lone-bright-spot kind of night.

Then the second quarter happened. Felton and Stat went to the bench – as did Kobe and most of the Laker starters. Mozgov, who played a rough-but-passable game en route to 7 points and 11 boards on 3-9 shooting, quickly to into foul trouble, opening up the middle for the Lakers, who began exploiting the Knicks weak interior D. This episode featured 6’8” Wilson Chandler stranded helplessly on Pau Gasol, with Amar’e guarding Bynum. It was also around this time that the Knicks apparently figured “we’re having such a swell time playing defense, why don’t we turn the ball over 9 times in the quarter and 4 times in 5 possessions?” The result was a 14-point halftime lead that found both the Garden crowd and the KB forum eerily silent.

The Knicks actually outrebounded the Lakers 44-41, including 13-7 in OREBs. While there were a few inevitable lapses – which happens when you’re playing against two smart, athletic 7-footers – the Knicks also showed at least a tentative propensity for boxing out, all but eliminating by the third quarter what was, in the first half, a sizable rebounding margin. Still, particularly in the first half, it seemed all of L.A.’s offensive boards came at times when the Knicks needed a change of possession the most.
New York never made a serious run in the second half, closing to within 10 only once, and the Lakers pulled away early in the 4th as Luke Walton led the team down the home stretch. Actually, I don’t know what happened in the last three minutes. ESPN actually spirited me away to overtime of the Cavs-Clippers game. Apparently, “relevance” only begins where 26-game losing streaks end.

Despite perhaps the worst coupling of games this year, if the last two LAX-fests have taught us anything, it’s that the end of a back-to-back can actually turn out favorably. With the Sixers and Bobcats lurking in the shadows, tonight’s game in Newark presents a definite litmus test for our faltering cagers. Fall below .500, and get ready to hear the Chris Sheridans and Ric Buchers of the world play the gut-‘em guitar for the next two weeks. Go in and dominate in an arena that just weeks ago was selling last-minute Nets-Cavas tickets for 50 cents, well, that’s what good teams do.

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Jim Cavan

Beyond his KnickerBlogger roots, Jim's work has appeared at, Grantland, The Classical, and the New York Times. He is currently working on a biography of Robert Silverman, entitled "Clownin' and Astoundin.'" Follow him on Twitter @JPCavan.

17 thoughts to “Lakers 113, Knicks 96”


    Sheridan and O’Conner are both in rare form today. Sheridan parrots the usual “if you think giving up both Fields and Gallo on top of the other assets already dangled, then you’re a moron”, while O’Conner pretty harshly calls out D’A.

    But Sheridan’s column in particular really has me wondering: are we — along with a few other Knicks blogs out there — really the only ones left who think giving up four starters, a prospect and a fat contract for one player would be an unwise move? Sheridan makes this particularly assenine remark: “If the Knicks don’t make this trade, they can look forward to slipping back into the same state of irrelevance they occupied for the better part of the past decade.”

    ….What!?!?!?? I thought the irrelevance of the last decade was a biproduct of handing out absurdly large contracts and making lopsided trades for players who didn’t deserve it? Obviously Melo is a rare breed, and better than anything that’s come across our radar screen in a while. But shit, even MARK JACKSON said during last night’s telecast that, at this point, it would be wise to just wait out the season and let Melo come to us, rather than end up with two tall pillars with very little in the way of support around them.

    Ugh. Please get a win tonight.

  2. I dunno, I think these guys just desperately want to get hits, so their go-to emotion is outrage/fear. I don’t even necessarily blame them.

    But you can’t expect any sort of consistency out of them besides the fact that they will freak out daily over pretty much anything.

    Take Wojo for example. During the offseason he was ripping on Donnie Walsh for not doing a good enough job getting Lebron. Then a couple of weeks ago, Dolan is a moron for not extending Walsh now instead of waiting until Walsh’s option has to be picked up. They basically take whatever position best suits them to make over-the-top statements that gets people to pay attention to them.

  3. But yeah, that line from Sheridan was particularly bad, I will admit. Man, if I went to myself in 2002 and said, “Hey, 2002 Brian, which Knick team do you think is better prepared for the next five years?

    An extremely capped out team with a starting lineup of…

    30 year old Eisley
    31 year old Houston
    32 year old Sprewell
    32 year old Weatherspoon
    30 year old Thomas

    and a bench of

    29 year old Othella Harrington
    32 year old Ward
    29 year old Shandon Anderson
    25 year old Doleac

    Or a team that has cap room and a starting lineup of…

    26 year old Felton
    22 year old Fields
    23 year old Gallinari
    23 year old Chandler
    28 year old Stoudemire

    with a bench of

    24 year old Douglas
    28 year old Turiaf
    24 year old Shawne Williams
    24 year old Mozgov?”

    2002 Brian would kill for the 2011 Knicks for the next few years. This notion that you’re going to condemn a team PERIOD for their future when they are a young team at .500 in their first year together is preposterous, but the notion that you are going to then doom them to irrelevance for the rest of the decade if they don’t trade three 23 year old and younger starters plus two draft picks for a 26 year old star? That goes way past preposterous.

  4. Nashless dantoni failed once again to give an identity to his team.
    This for the third consecutive year. Non existent defense and senseless offense, no matter what adv stats say, the third version of knicks is still far far away to be relevant again despite 100mil Stat and felton and DW is a great GM bla bla bla.

    They play today the most important game of the season,
    a loss could open a very deep crisis with unexpected developments.

  5. A decade of shit has destroyed the capacity of evaluating facts of many of you.
    Open your eyes folks: don’t judge DW in comparison with isiah!
    Remember that the goal is the title not the present mediocrity.

  6. totti: A decade of shit has destroyed the capacity of evaluating facts of many of you.
    Open your eyes folks: don’t judge DW in comparison with isiah!
    Remember that the goal is the title not the present mediocrity.  

    We are not winning a title this near no matter what moves we make, so if you feel that this is torturous “mediocrity”, you’re going to have to deal with it.

  7. Doug,
    are you happy with the team not playing hard night after night as they should, are you happy with a defense that makes of all the de andre jordans of the world a champion, are you happy with the offense based only on three points accuracy?
    Do you really think Dantoni is doing a good job?
    This is the third year of rebuilding project and i agree that DW had success off court saving a lot of money and assuring 12 mil flexibility for next year. I can imagine that all of this sounds great for many of you knicks fans, after all the humiliations of the decade. Hey, infact you think of isiah years and you say “wow, what a genius is DW” you have a justification for everything happening on the court. You simply say “cool down my friend and stay patiently, we will be relevant again”. Only illusions, mere illusions.
    Have you seen the way the lakers treated us like little childs?
    Reality is: nba title is very far away, even with 12 mil to spend.
    I prefere a decade of shit where at least dolan’s money has been largely spent….

  8. @3 Well said, Brian. At the beginning of this season, if we had said that on 2/12 we’d be .500, 6th in the East, Stat would be starting in the All Star game and we’d have the 2nd best rookie in the NBA, we’d all have jumped for joy. Let’s remember that when we went on our 13 of 14 streak it was against mediocre and bad teams, and we were not going to maintain at 7 games over .500.

    And regarding BBA’s earlier post about Gallo, he really does need to be called out, just like everyone dumped on Felton for his streak of poor play. If Gallo was making 3’s at anywhere near an acceptable rate the last few games, we probably beat the Clips and at least keep the Laker game under control. I’m glad he’s driving to the basket and drawing fouls, but as BBA said, this idea that we should give the ball to Gallo in crunch time and let him go to work is a little absurd when he can’t even make an open shot.

  9. We are just too green. It’s hard enough integrating one young player into a lineup, much less 4. This team needs more veteran leadership in the starting lineup plain and simple. Too bad Turiaf can’t stay healthy. He’s not amazing or anything, but he really could keep everyone’s head level. Stat and Ray are both good players, but they don’t look to correct the young players like a Grant Hill or a KG would. Just adding a guy like that would be priceless to this team.
    At first I thought Camby would be the right trade, but now I’m not so sure. Maybe Coach D is at his best when Stat is at center? Our losing has coincided with a lot more rebounds. Why is that? Maybe because we’re missing more shots?
    Maybe a vet wing like Dunleavy or Tay Prince would help? Even a Troy Murphy.

  10. totti: I prefere a decade of shit where at least dolan’s money has been largely spent….

    Spending the money you have is one thing. Spending it stupidly, and just because you can, is an entirely different matter. I for one would rather a time machine fall directly on my head than have it take me back to 2005-2008.

  11. Ditto to what Brian said about these endlessly histrionic articles. I’m waiting for the first article you seriously look at what the team would be if their Gallo Fields Chandler and more for Melo went down. I mean really those two can get 60-60 every night and then what.

  12. @ 3 Gallo is 22 he turns 23 by next season!

    We have obviously hit a shooting rut. Our offense is not nearly as fluid as it was when we had the winning streak. The PnR is literally non existent with STAT and teams are out-hustling us with fastbreak points and tip ins. We seemingly cannot put 4 consistent quarters. Last night was a prime example of it, our defense was disruptive in the 1st but afterwards every Laker got open shots. Plus our TOs really hurt us and we never recovered.

  13. But at the end of the day, its our defensive focus that’s hurting us. Teams just get the looks that they want every single game.

  14. We definitely need to improve. We probably need to upgrade our talent. Carmelo may not be as good as LBJ but I think, but, from what I’ve read, he’s undervalued on this board because of his relatively low FG percentages, perceived lack of defense, pedestrian rebounding, etc. Still, his teams have been winners and this, to me is the most important stat. I would give up more to get him now. It’d be fun to see it happen

    So, I can’t help but think Carmelo would. Improve the team immensely, but not at any cost. Particularly, not at the cost of the possibility of cap space for 2012 and a shot at Chris Paul. I think our situation is good, Melo or not, because we are in a position to upgrade and that can take many delightful forms. We have cap space and assets that people want. My worry is that Dolan will get rid of Walsh if he doesn’t make a trade for Carmelo right now.

  15. Sports tend to be good for making metaphors about life. Its kind of a pressure cooker for human emotions.

    The same can be said for sports media. The same issues that face our national media, are tenfold in sports. Lack of accountability (my sources tell me that LBJ will be going to chicago, no miami, no NY, no he is staying in cle… well… i dont have sources but I still have my job and nobody seems to care) and a goal of hits rather then accuracy is what is wrong with so many things.

    Screw the media. They can whine and complain all they want. They will do so right until the knicks are where they want them to be. They will hold no accountability to what they said previously, but will take all the credit in the world if one thing they said months ago turns out to be right.

    Donnie is doing this right. We know it, he knows it… thats all that matters.

  16. @7
    im appalled as a knicks fan that you would rather go back to expensive knicks teams with no future or direction over a young and exciting team. This is really the first year of MDA since the past two seasons were throw away seasons (and everyone knew and accepted that) with no goal other then to get cap flexibility. This is a young team with no real size, very little depth , and poor defense so tough stretches are going to happen, don’t trash everything already. Every team goes through a slump in a regular season that is way too long. The All-Star break and some rest will be good for them. This team is very young team and are still a work in progress, but the fact that they ARE better and finally have direction is enough for me for this season. This is just the beginning of the long road from out of the darkness. Teams dont rise from the gutter over night. Give it some time

  17. Tufumbo: This is a young team with no real size, very little depth , and poor defense so tough stretches are going to happen, don’t trash everything already.

    The size can be attributed to MDA preferring tweeners, that is why we have Extra E instead of Barron or any type of big. Also can be attributed to MDAs negligence of size in his bench (Randolph happens to be a terrific ‘bounder at 6’11”).

    Depth can be attributed to MDAs love for a short rotation. There is no real step off from TD, Extra E, Randolph, Rautins, Mason.

    Poor defense is what he teaches, unless he finds D’Antoni type of players who can shoot threes like Ray Allen, rebound like Barkley and defend like Bowen all while being small and quick we will not defend.

    I remember watching the open practice and notice how Patrick Ewing Jr blocked STAT 3 times and play good defense. STAT mauled the rest of the Knicks like schoolgirls and Extra E did nothing but give effort and hit the occasional 3. Thats all he needed to pick Shawne over Junior.

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