2015-16 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Lakers

Once upon a time, Lakers at Knicks was a marquee matchup. The two largest TV markets in the country squaring off on a Sunday afternoon, taking on the NFL juggernaut, was damn good stuff. Today…not so much. The narratives drifting around this particular game are largely about things that are broken and things that are old. If things were going really well for the two cornerstone franchises, we might be talking about a budding rivalry between Kristaps Porzingis and Julius Randle, or the dynamic guard duos of Jerian Grant/Langston Galloway and D’Angelo Russell/Jordan Clarkson. Maybe we ought to be talking about those things, frankly, but there are other stories that seem to be hanging over this sad little game like the flesh eating mist in Stephen King’s “The Fog.”

For each fan base, there’s the issue of the coach. Byron Scott is a Laker of the Showtime era, brought in to somehow magically restore “The Laker Way” to a bunch of ill-fitting trolls and the zombie known as Black Mamba. There’s no such thing as magic, though. Byron Scott seems like a sacrificial pup, plucked from a pool of seals fleeing from a great white shark. That’s the way the Lakers have handled all their coaching hires in the post-Phil Jackson era and they’ve all ended the same way…badly.

The Knicks, on the other hand, tried their hand at the trendy new coaching search by focusing on guys who’d never done the job before, eventually stabbing Fisher with a fork and dressing him up nice to stand in front of cameras. He plays the part really well for all his poise and professionalism. He projects an aura of class and seriousness that’s not only rare in the NBA, but in life as well. The thing is, he seems a bit like the same old stubborn brand of coach who turns to favorite veterans in the face of overwhelming evidence that they suck. That’s the attitude that marks most coaches as journeymen, spinning through the revolving door of mediocrity that’s characteristic of pro sports. Look the part, talk the talk, trust your vets, lose games, lose your star player, lose the rest of the locker room, get fired, work as an assistant somewhere, get another job, rinse, repeat. Now, I’ve been a Fisher supporter throughout the turbulent and frustrating times he’s been a part of at this point, but the act wears thin when everyone’s saying the same thing about your situation and you seem oblivious to it.

That situation, of course, is the maddening loyalty he’s shown to Calderon and Vujacic, even as they’ve deteriorated before our very eyes. Loyalty is an admirable trait, but professional sports are unforgiving to failure. Loyalty means telling players the truth about their ability to compete as much as it means trying not to embarrass them by benching them. The measure of Derek Fisher’s tenure as Knicks coach has more to do with how quickly and effectively he turns the reins of the team over to Galloway and Grant as anything he did last season in losing with grace. It appears as though we won’t know the answer to that burning question in the context of the Lakers game, so perhaps we’ll put it to the side for now.

We might focus on the two marquee players on the floor, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant. Both are coming off injury-marred seasons of a year ago, and both are huge figures on their respective teams. Melo is actually the best player on his team, however, and Kobe would play better on AMC later in the evening with the rest of the Walking Dead. Talk about a character in need of being killed off. I could write a thousand pages on the way Kobe’s legacy is crippling the Lakers present, but you people see it as well as I do. As long as he’s on that team, he’s the gravity well of the Lakers black hole. One key to this game is the level of efficiency produced by these alpha figures. It’s doubtful that either of the players will be the main reason their team wins or loses the game, but playing efficiently within the team concept might just be what creates the proper atmosphere for whichever team pulls it out. For the record, Melo’s been better at it than Kobe to this point.

I want to give a little positive publicity to the Porzingis/Randle part of this game. Who knows how much that pair will impact the outcome, but it would be pretty damn sweet if the answer were “a lot.” Both of those bigs are new era types with a lot of versatility and determination. Randle’s bread and butter in that regard is his passing and general feel for the game. He’s not as efficient as he’ll eventually need to be, but he’s shown a few flashes so far. Porzingis has been even better and the way he flies around the court with rabid intensity is exactly what we’ve hoped for in a star player for the last generation or so. He needs to improve his efficiency as well, but it seems as though he makes strides in that area each game. When you think about his size, his age, and his unusual set of skills, not to mention how fast he seems to learn on the job, the future might be now for Krispy K.R.E.A.M.. Dollar dollar bills, y’all.

The Lakers are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league at this point. Julius Randle is leading the team on the boards, with Roy Hibbert following behind at a distance. Hibbert is only playing 24 minutes a game to start the season and he’s the victim of the small ball approach that’s sweeping the nation. The truth is, the Lakers are rebounding on the defensive end at about the same rate as our Knicks, but are among the very worst at getting second chances. Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle O’Quinn are top 10 in the league at offensive rebounding rate, among all qualified players, which bodes well for the Knicks and not so well for the Los Angeles Kobes. Behind Randle and Hibbert, there isn’t really a player to watch in this regard, as there was with Henson in the Milwaukee game. I suppose the guy to keep an eye on is Brandon Bass, but the Lakers are probably in a world of hurt if they have to turn to Bass for significant contributions. Yay us!

The other key area to watch is the ability of these teams to move the ball effectively. Both teams are near the bottom of the NBA in assist ratio, which seems like common sense for LA with Kobe, Lou Williams, and Nick Young on the floor. The Knicks were feelin’ groovier at the start of the season, but have lost three straight, in part, because they fart away the late game minutes with odd isolations, lazy passes, and confused half court sets that result in late shot clock heaving. The Knicks have the personnel to play a funkier game, where the Lakers are never going to have an answer for the type of roster they’ve built. If they’re going to win the game it’s because 1) they change everything about what they’re doing, or 2) somebody goes absolutely berserk and drops a historical game. Cue Kobe’s 101-point swan song at the Garden.

Despite the general gloom I’ve described to this point, I’m feeling optimistic about the game and the team, in general. In a couple of years, this may be one of the games that harkened the beginning of a new era for New York and LA, and we’ll be witness to it as it happens. I’ll leave you with three possible outcomes to the game that we can debate and rehash as the thing unfolds.

1. Kobe Bryant goes nuts and single-handedly carries his team to a victory in his Garden finale. It’s the story that seems most poetic and so lots of people are going to be talking about it. It’s kind of a no-brainer, but I also think it’s wishful thinking on the part of the parties invested in that narrative. Two years ago, that may have been more realistic. It’s hard to see it, honestly. (Hear me basketball gods….that ain’t happenin’.)

2. The Knicks are going to get their act together, play with energy from the start, feed off the home crowd, and put away the Lakers with relative ease. The main problem with this scenario is that the Lakers have a dynamic set of scoring guards, who will devour the lousy, aged duo of Calderon and Vujacic. I think this scenario is most likely if Fisher decided to let Grant and Galloway play big minutes and counter the Lakers strength with the equal and opposite strength we have at our disposal. I also think the Knicks bench will play a role in making this scenario come true, whatever bad things the starting backcourt bring about. The Lakers have no answer for our bench and we ought to be able to “second-chance” them to death with that unit.

3. Last, but not least, the game will end with the score 121-118 on a last second three pointer by someone. Who the hell knows which player is going to be that hero. This scenario is most likely because neither team will be able to put the game away. The Lakers will give the Knicks terrible fits in the backcourt and Clarkson/Russell will look like All-NBA guards. Porzingis, Melo, and Derrick Williams will each score 20 points and O’Quinn will pair with Lopez to double-double on a ton of offensive boards. The game will be exciting in a “what on Earth is happening here” kind of way and the crowd will be left entertained, if not impressed.

I’m counting on scenario #2 here, as I’m sure the rest of you are as well. That said, anything that results in our first home win would be satisfactory. Let’s go Knicks!

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163 thoughts to “2015-16 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Lakers”

  1. Ramon did you just get kicked or just trolling lol? Knicksticulating doesnt sound good… sounds weird… Go the knicks!!!

  2. I know. Ramon Suarez = cutthroat pirate name, remember?

    And yeah, he got banned for getting in a tussle with that jerk who runs stuff over there. Forgot his name.

  3. I’ll have my eye on Grant today. This is a game I really want to see him leave his stamp on. He’s got to get more comfortable taking open shots.

  4. That bothers me…I thought you added a lot to those discussions over there. I didn’t agree with you sometimes, but you had a perspective.

  5. Thanks shanferg. Yeah, I thought it was the type of place where people could keep things real and be honest about basketball and shit. But that Seth guy didn’t like that I refused to apologize for a tone he didn’t like. Whatever.

    Look forward to enjoying conversations here.

  6. Porzingis seems to rush his shot at times. I wonder if that explains the poor shooting numbers so far.

  7. Porzingis seems to rush his shot at times. I wonder if that explains the poor shooting numbers so far.

    I think Clyde mentioned that. I agree, he needs to take his time. No one is blocking his shot, he’s so large. He can take his sweet time.

  8. Does Fisher think this is little league where everybody has to play?? 11 guys played in the 1st quarter.

  9. Really wish Porzingis can avoid fouling because so far he’s been the best player on the team along with Galloway

  10. Galloway needs to shoot that. He’s the only person on this team that likes watching his threes go through the hoop right now.

  11. Galloway has quickly become my favorite Knick. My heart would sooner trade KP, while my head thankfully does not allow my heart to make those sorts of edcisions.

  12. CNB
    Funny. I’ve been posting here for like four or five years and never once been called a fan boy. I catch crap from time to time from the Melo lovers here because I’m kind of critical of him.
    I think if we start Galloway at PG, I think he’s better than Grant right now, an Afflalo at the 2, then you have Grant off the bench and Sasha off the bench. I don’t like Sasha as a starter but he’s a legit back up. That’s what I was saying.
    And there is no dispute that this team was almost built entirely from scratch. They don’t yet know who they are together.
    Already KP and Grant and Galloway are more than expected. Lopez and Calderon are still figuring stuff out. Melo’s leg is not yet strong.
    I am more optimistic about this team than I have been for years. I think we should know by game 30 what this team will be.
    Until then I could give a crap if my positive feel make you feel like I’m trolling you. i didn’t belittle anyone or make pejorative comments.
    Stratomtic
    I appreciate your comments.

  13. I really think Calderon has earned a seat on the bench. We used to trash Woodson for constantly switching rotations, but Fish needs to hold Jose accountable.
    He’s not only shooting badly, but his D is horrible too.

  14. Ras1980
    Have to agree. It’s a different team with KP on the bench. Kid needs to control silly fouls, seven games into his NBA career.
    Of course, it’s probably good that he’s not playing 33 minutes a night.

  15. Need to get O’Quinn and Seraphin some stickem: so they can hold onto rebounds and so Seraphin takes few shots.

  16. I really can’t stand Derek Fisher anymore. I mean how many games do we have to lose before he’s going to do something about Calderon and Vujamakemesick. I’m so friggin sick of seeing these two not only in games, but in games TOGETHER. It’s just dumb! I mean not only should they not be starting, but every effort should be made that they not play at all. They sure as hell don’t belong on the court together.

  17. Yeah, Frank. Its a tough situation, we ask so much of him already on defense by design. I read Fisher has our shitty defensive backcourt play up on their men on the perimeter to avoid open 3 points looks. That makes them more prone to getting blown right past by. So, some of the fouls by KP are dumb, others are because he’s trying to overcompensate for how easy the ball is entering the paint.

  18. D-mar
    So true. Simply cannot afford a guy taking 18 shots per game and hitting under 35%.
    Efficiency aside, they simply need his verve. Like Reggie, he stirs this drink.

  19. Melo is stinking up the court. Dude just isn’t getting it done. I get all of the excuses about it being early in the season and his recovering from surgery, but he’s got to get more done. We’re leaning too hard on the rooks to carry us.

  20. I generally have no problem rolling with Melo. But sometimes the opposition gets into his head particularly when it’s a star guy. He does not need to go mano-y-mano with Kobe, get distracted and give up wide open 3-ball looks.

  21. @Cdiggy,

    I agree. And you’d think he realize that this isn’t a 1 on 1 game vs. the other superstar scorer at this point in his career.

  22. If you don’t hit shots….because half the players on the floor are garbage….the other team gets in transition and scores easy buckets. Then you lose.

  23. WTF was that? Damn, it was ugly. KP taking too many chances on defense. Melo sucking ass shooting. RoLo is a dope.

  24. Galloway needs to play every minute until Afflalo returns. Grant can’t shoot at all.

    But Grant can penetrate off the dribble drive and create on offense.

  25. We can complain, rightfully, about some of Fisher’s decisions but the biggest problem this team has right now is almost certainly the guy taking 19 shots a game with a 49% TS.

  26. Derrick Williams attempted a fast break earlier so he’s been benched for the foreseeable future.

  27. Can anyone explain why our coaches love Calderon and bench every other guard once they get hot? Does Jose have dirt on them or something?

  28. I have major issues with the rotation, defense, and low-intelligence of the plays out there.

  29. Can anyone explain why our coaches love Calderon and bench every other guard once they get hot? Does Jose have dirt on them or something?

    I think Jose is playing fine today. I think it works better when he is playing next to galloway or grant.

    I just dont get Vujacic love, but since Fisher’s gone, he has not played.

  30. I think Jose is playing fine today

    No. Every single Laker point has been predicated by someone beating him off the block, a big comes out to help, and that forces the middle open.

    Jose isn’t even passing well, and isn’t being asked to in this system.

  31. I think unfortunately we have (unsuccessful) hero ball ahead of us. If you’re struggling why take dumb shots?

  32. MELO will ‘ take over’ with 3 minutes left and the Knicks 4 points behind. He just went 1-on-3

  33. Guys, the Lakers are a terrible team. If we were in any way decent, it wouldn’t come down to “superstar calls.”

    This team’s rotation/D/playmaking flat-out stinks.

  34. Kobe may have a first degree assault case against Melo after the game. He literally is wrapping his arms around Kobe.

  35. Which team wants it least?

    Seriously, this kind of looks like one of those tankathon games from last season.

  36. What’s funny is that if Melo had dove for the ball like Kobe did he would have been called for a foul. lol

  37. Considering how he looked trying to rebound during Summer League and the pre-season its really incredible how good KP has rebounded so far during the regular season. He attacks the ball ferociously now, its great to see.

  38. Knicks asserting themselves…
    Not trying to troll. Just happy.
    And KP is the best player on the floor again. Big boards, big foul shots and another board and a 7’3 dive to recover the ball.
    This kid is fun

  39. Yeh I don’t think he was a great rebounder in Spain but awesome to see. Hope he keeps up the aggression

  40. I don’t know who the Garden fans are chanting MVP for. Must be Galloway. Or maybe Porzingus.

  41. Some parts of this game have beenough Dumb and Dumber.

    A clutch Gallo 3, good hustle by Krispy K.R.E.A.M. (borrowed from a P&T poster), dumb Laker offense, and we put it away.

  42. If you’re trying to match the Lakers going small, why not take Lopez out instead of Porzingis?

  43. If Afflalo’s minutes come at the expense of Langston and not Calderon/Vujacic I will fucking lose it

  44. I’ll take it, but damnit, if I see anything other than more KP/Galloway/Grant, and less Calderon/Lance/Machine, I’m throwing my remote at the TV.

  45. Jose was killing me in the first half, but he made some nice plays, was a pest, got some steals and hit at least a few shots.
    If he becomes Prigs, I’m fine with that.
    But off the bench.

  46. The machine is broken and needs to be put in the woodshed, good to see limited minutes. Calderon showed he’s not bibby just yet, he needs to be more aggressive/consistent. Good job from rolo playing within himself. Porzingis is awesome to cheer for, if we had #1 pick wouldn’t have been mad if he was chosen

  47. Thanks, Fish! Thanks Kurt!!

    Thanks Galloway! Great pass from Calderon too, btw. Thanks Krispy Kreme! You too Rolo! Tarantula Head and hard working Lance were good too. Melo was meh but looked like part of a team.

    O’Quinn needs new hands. Seraphin attempted one pass and failed miserably. Grant can’t shoot and is losing confidence. Sasha needs a new hair net.

  48. Calderon played well today, Vujacic sucked again. Once Afflalo returns hopefully Vujaic becomes a regular DNP-CD. Still have some hope for Calderon, just hope Fisher keeps a short leash on him during games he is clearly struggling in.

  49. Lopez, Galloway, and Porzingis carried this team tonight. Kudos also to Grant for getting 8 assists and making an impact even on a poor shooting night. Calderon had his best game of the season where he was only as slight negative.

  50. I knew we would win the moment Fisher was ejected. Is there anyway we can turn that into a suspension? #winningstreak!

  51. – Lopez was very solid today, including some big offensive rebounds in the 4th quarter.

    – When Calderon is hitting shots, he goes from useless to passable, but he still should be only getting 15 minutes a game tops.

    – Hopefully, Grant can develop his shot, he does everything else pretty well.

  52. It was nice to see Calderon hit some shots today and I hold out hope that he won’t be completely useless this season like Sasha clearly is, but him getting double Grant’s minutes is pretty unacceptable.

  53. I also have to say, team IQ is much improved. Fewer completely baffling decisions. Low bar for sure, but I think both Grant and Gallo have a plan and break down defenses well.
    Grant needs to take thousands of shots. If he develops a good jumper he’s going to be a very good guard.

  54. Gallo needs to start. He makes everyone look good. Also, if he starts to consitently come of screens to catch and shoot I might lose it.

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