2015-16 Game Thread: Knicks @ Lakers

There haven’t been many games since mid January that I’ve looked at and thought the Knicks absolutely should win. But tonight is one of them. The Lakers have no incentive to win any more games this year, with their pick set to go to Philadelphia (the only team in the league with a worse record than them) if it falls outside of the top 3. The Knicks really don’t have any incentive to win either, seeing as every win reportedly brings us closer to putting Rambis at the helm again next year. If I’m Melo or Kristaps, I don’t want this dude to be my coach going forward, but who knows? Maybe Rambis is like one of those substitute teachers the class knows they can manipulate into letting them do just about anything, and the team enjoys the lack of strict supervision and wants to keep the party going.

Speaking of keeping the party going, I don’t remember who pointed this out in the comments a few days ago, but someone astutely pointed out that LeBron, CP3, Melo and Kobe were all in LA last night and none had a game to play. The chance of them having gone out last night is roughly 170%, so we may see an All-Star game type of atmosphere in regards to effort from those guys today since they’re all on the wrong side of 30, and speaking from experience I can say the hangovers just keep getting worse as you and your boys get older but you keep going out and partying like you’re 22. I expect LAC-CLE to tighten up in the 4th quarter since those teams are still fighting for playoff seeding, but the Lakers and Knicks have no reason to go HAM.

I’m assuming Kobe is going to play tonight, seeing as it his last game against the Knicks and Melo before his impending retirement. Only 15 more games to play, and the reality of Kobe not being a part of the league isn’t striking much of an emotional chord with me. He’s been part of my basketball life now since I was 11 years old, and I’ve never been fond of Kobe or the Lakers, but when he was on, he was always one of the most exciting players I’ve ever watched. I find myself watching Steph Curry and having similar reactions to him as I did in the past watching Kobe, shaking my head, wondering how the latest circus shot found the net. He was arrogant and he was vastly unlikable for the majority of his career, at least to me, but I feel I should be a bit more upset about the reality of a league without him. I think he’s been dwindling for so long that the end of his career feels roughly like putting a dog to sleep that has had major health problems for a long enough time that it would be easier to see it dead than alive. Kobe hasn’t been Kobe since about 2010, so this long and drawn-out process of him coming to grips with his basketball mortality has been difficult to watch.

I went and saw Kobe in DC December 2nd shortly after his retirement announcement, and the typically strange DC crowd was extremely pro-Kobe. Hell, I was chanting his name right there with them in the final period as the Wizards stared into the stands and wondered why they have to play in this transient city where every road team brings thousands of its fan into their arena. Really, Washington, Durant is gonna come back here to finish the prime of his career, in front of a city that doesn’t give a shit about anything but what the vanity plates on the lease they can’t afford says to all the other miserable commuters who callously march back and forth to the jobs they hate? I don’t think so.

But that night was actually pretty magical—Kobe scored 31 points and hit what turned out to be the game-winner, so it was everything and more that I could have hoped for to see Bryant in person my last time. He looked like the Kobe I remembered from the 2000s, and it’s a night I’ll never forget. John Wall and everyone else came and paid their respects to Kobe as we chanted his name throughout Verizon Center, he gave a few big waves and trademark smiles to the crowd, and disappeared into the tunnel, throwing the towel draped around his neck over the railings to whoever was lucky enough to catch his collected sweat that night. It was the last time I was ever going to see him play in person, and it hit me after a few minutes of soaking up the nostalgia before I collected my things to leave the arena. That’s when I knew I wasn’t sad to see him go, really. It was just the end, and that was okay.

I haven’t gotten into any of the specifics of tonight’s game, like the matchups and shared history between the franchises. Phil being our president ties us to LA in a lot of ways, and Kobe still holds the scoring record at MSG. Melo was probably closer to signing there two years ago than any of us know, and obviously Phil’s first two coaching hires (and hopefully, not his next one) are from the Lakers family. These franchises represent the two largest cities in the most powerful country in the world, and right now, both are functionally awful teams. It’s tough to say who has the brighter future, as the Lakers may cough up their draft pick even if they finish with the 2nd worst record (their chances of getting a top 3 pick are about 57% if they finish with the 2nd worst record, which is a slightly weighted coin flip. Not something you feel overwhelmingly confident about if you’re in the Lakers front office) and then they would be stuck trying to fill holes around their young talent through free agency much like the Knicks will have to this summer.

D’Angelo Russell is beginning to show why he was the 2nd pick in the draft last year, and his development will have a lot to do with how the Lakers look going forward. Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson are good young pieces, but Russell is the only one with a chance to develop into a superstar. Randle is intriguing, but I think he’s just a tad undersized, and probably doesn’t have the Draymond Green DNA combination of swagger, toughness and work ethic to overcome it. Still, the Lakers have an interesting collection of young talent, and if they retain their pick, they will have a lot of cap space and a very positive future.

I must admit, this time of year I tend to get crazy over the March Madness and get out of the NBA pool for about 2 weeks to plunge head-first into the college tournament. I love the first four days, like every other basketball fan on the planet, and the conference tournaments I try to watch just to get a feel for some of the best teams, since I don’t watch a lot of college basketball during the NBA year. I’ll have more thoughts after the brackets come out in the recap, but assuming this game is as lackluster as I believe it will be, we can come back to this later. I’m a believer in Kansas, actually, even though they’ve been synonymous with Duke in their consistency with being upset by high seeds early in the tournament. They look really good to me. Michigan State and Virginia also strike me as teams that can go really far in this tournament and maybe win the whole thing depending on the bracket. As always, the bracket and matchups will affect my thinking some, but that’s my early return.

As far as highly ranked teams I don’t believe in, I’m going to have to go with conference foes Xavier and Villanova. Something about them just makes me think they’re doomed to lose in the first weekend or in the Sweet 16. Both will be high seeds, probably a 1 and 2, and I think they’ve played in a 2nd-rate league for 2 months and are going to be revealed for what they are once they meet similar talent in the tournament. Again, I’ll have to see what the matchups look like before I can make that case definitively, but that’s my thinking now. Oregon is likely to be a 2 seed, but has an outside chance of being a 1. The Ducks have been downright dominant lately. Nearly every year I dismiss the Pac 12 as an inferior conference, though, and I’m doing it again, because it’s almost always worked out well to choose against that conference in the tournament. Oregon goes down early.

And you can’t talk about the tournament without bringing up your “sleeper” so I of course have a couple thoughts about that. Kentucky is not really a sleeper, being that they’ll be a 3 or 4 seed and everyone knows their pedigree and NBA talent. But they’ve been under the radar all year, and a little of this is my SEC homerism, but they’ll make some noise in this tournament, and could win the whole thing, much like they very nearly did as an 8 seed making the title game a couple few years ago. I also believe in Texas A&M, Kentucky’s opponent in the SEC title game today, as well as Indiana and Purdue, to perform above their seeding (which in all three cases will probably be a 4 seed or better, but still, these teams aren’t far apart in quality from any of the 1 and 2 seeds).

Seemed criminal to not devote a section to March Madness on Selection Sunday so there ya go. I will be diving headfirst into the brackets after the Knicks game tonight (and before it and during commercials and halftime, who am I kidding) like many of you. Have fun with it, it’s probably going to be a better source of entertainment than tonight’s game. But hopefully Kobe and Melo play well in their last game against each other, because it would be fun to see them trading shots in the 4th quarter of a close game, I can’t deny that.

Wow, I can’t believe I wrote this much for this game. I thought I would go like 500 words max. If you made it through all of that, congrats, and enjoy the game you crazy people!

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Erik Judd

I'm a lifelong basketball fan whose interests range from some things to other things.

76 thoughts to “2015-16 Game Thread: Knicks @ Lakers”

  1. I blame Melo. He probably had him drinking too much with JR and CP3 and Lebron this weekend

  2. I hope Kobe takes 50 shots. Because that would be great basketball.

    Even better would be a duel for the ages with Melo, where they each take 50 shots while their respective teammates stand off to the side of the court and watch.

    Now that’s must see TV!

  3. That one season where the Lakers were pretty terrible and Kobe took all the fucking shots (2006?) was really something to see.

  4. 18-11 after the 1st.

    I told you guys this would be a boring game. Ugh. Brackets, man. Focus on brackets

  5. bit off topic, but I make some really fucking tasty salsa. Shame you guys aren’t here with me.

  6. See, I was making hash browns this morning. I added the oil to the pan when the pan was nice and hot, but I still had sticking. When the hash browns stick to the pan, you end up with soggy insides and no crispy outside. Hate it. Can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong.

  7. That’s what I was thinking, too. They were fresh, not frozen. Maybe I should try dehydrating them. Not sure. Is there basketball tonight?

  8. I added the oil to the pan when the pan was nice and hot, but I still had sticking. When the hash browns stick to the pan, you end up with soggy insides and no crispy outside. Hate it.

    Dude, we get it, you don’t like the Bargnani trade. Move on.

  9. Only hash brownies.


    Their beef is an abomination, but their potato products give me priapism.

  10. @19

    No way man. McDonald’s hash browns are a wonderfully delicious and efficient delivery system of fried potato. I think I might like them even better than their fries.

  11. Speaking of McDonalds, I find it weird that they have the fillet o fish in their McPick 2 for $5 special and also have it in their Break menu 2 (fish and small fries) for $2.50. Maybe that’s just an area thing.

  12. While this game is garbage, I don’t mind garbage wins. They don’t solidify Rambis’ chances of remaining coach and I don’t have to worry about being conflicted about a Knick win. I can just enjoy the win.

  13. Lopez has been quietly awesome for weeks now. Still much happier to have him than Monroe.

  14. Lopez is a very good player. I like him more than Monroe as well. But it just speaks volumes that Lopez was Jackson’s, like, Plan E.

  15. 37 points a few minutes into the third. Holy shit, Lakers. And these dudes beat the Warriors, like, a week ago!!

  16. DeAndre Jordan is much better than Robin Lopez, and Greg Monroe is at least arguably better, so I can’t knock Phil for that.

  17. I hear you, but I prefer Lopez to Monroe absolutely, and then when you throw in that his contract is substantially better and he is a wildly better fit with Melo you can fault him a bit for that one.

  18. Kinda wondering if there’s a painting of a middle aged Ron Artest in an attic in Queensbridge.

  19. Rambis has been willing to play Arron at the 3, which i think is smart because I suggested it in the preseason

  20. What a terrible game. Not sure what to write about regardless of outcome.

    Much more interested in the bracket tonight.

  21. I agree I think he works a little better at 3 bc he can’t guard speed anymore and he does a little better than expected in the post against bigger guys.

  22. it would have been smart to get Lopez some post touches earlier with Bass guarding him.

  23. Is that where Melo learned his early late game shooting from? I guess Bryant taught him that on Team USA.

  24. I still smiled when that went in. :)

    Breen said something about them not having made a game-winning shot in four years. That can’t be right, right?

  25. Would the season had been different if Jose would have made that game winner against the spurs?

    Oh well, time for some Last Man on Earth.

  26. I am pleased that Kobe’s last game against the Knicks ended with him missing a moronic shot.

  27. Watching Kobe’s strange bout of loving kindness this year is really unnerving, like if Alphago suddenly got up and hugged Lee Sedol after game 5.

  28. What an entertaining 4th quarter in LaLa land

    I wish LaLa would push to live there.

  29. Ian Begley says some weird shit, “Jose Calderon, the most maligned Knick in this lost season” Yeah, Calderon is the most maligned Knick. Suuuuuuure.

  30. Breen said something about them not having made a game-winning shot in four years. That can’t be right, right?

    Last one I remember was JR’s game winner to beat the Suns in Phoenix. (I remember it because my son and I were watching it on a laptop on the deck of a jungle lodge in Costa Rica, and we screamed and woke everyone up!)

  31. I couldn’t even get excited for that game-winner. Brilliant play drawn up by Rambis though, I gotta give him credit for that….

  32. Wally ditched his broke looking zoot suits for some modern shit real fast when swin joined the crew.

    Rambis unable to look any reporters in the eye when talking about Kristaps vomiting because of his stomach ailment the post game highlight for me.

  33. When Jose turned with a cold-blooded nonchalant calmness… that was straight gangsta. It makes up for at least 50 of the times he’s been torched on defense this year. That was cold. Ice frickin’ cold.

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