(Photo: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

It’s February 10, 2012 and the (15-11) Los Angeles Lakers are ready to take a bite out of the big apple in a back-to-back game against the (11-15) New York Knicks. The Lakers were able to outlast the Celtics in Boston, force them to deal with rejection, put an end to their five-game winning streak and snap their own two-game losing skid.

The Lakers big three of Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol came up huge combining for 68 points and 36 rebounds. The Lakers defense was solid and the game possessed playoff intensity. The Celtics went to the free throw line five times in the first half and did not get back to the line the remainder of the game.

A poor shooting performance, eight bench players combining for 18-points was not enough to stop the Lakers from wrestling away their fourth straight win in bean town. After notching their fourth road win of the season, taking the 187-mile flight to New York City the purple and gold will face a depleted Knicks team.

The Lakers lead the current season series (1-0 after a 99-82 win on 12/29/11), after sweeping last season’s series (2-0) for the fourth consecutive year. The Lakers have gone 9-1 against the Knicks in their last 10 games. The Lakers are 8-2 in their last 10 games at Madison Square Garden. In 29 games, (25 starts), Kobe Bryant has averaged 26.6 points per game against the Knicks. Kobe Bryant set the Madison Square Garden scoring record with a 61-point performance on 2/2/2009. The Knicks are riding a three-game winning streak.

Jeremy Lin has been a catalyst for the Knicks win streak and some have even asked the question has Jeremy Lin saved Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni? The fact of the matter is that D’Antoni’s offense designed to flourish with solid point guard play an entity that the Knicks have not had consistently. It is nice to see an undrafted player from Harvard who went to the D-league, spent a summer in Dallas had a cup of coffee in Houston & Oakland do well; It is what dreams are made of.

Jeremy Lin had not scored more than 13 points prior to 2/4/12, but in three starts this season, has averaged 25.3 points and 8.3 assists. Lin’s success is another indication of the importance of solid point guard play. It is one thing to dominate the ball without Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire and something entirely different to do when both are back in the lineup.

Lin was able to dominate against the Nets, Jazz and Wizards, although neither of those teams possess a defense on the same level as the Lakers. The Lakers have the fourth ranked defense in the NBA in points allowed (90.8 points), and the best rebounding team in the league averaging 45.2 boards per game.

The Lakers have to communicate on defense, do a good job defending the pick-and-roll play, stop the dribble penetration of the guards, control the tempo, get back in transition, box out their men then go after the rebound. The Lakers have to play with the same effort, energy that they played with last night, turn up the intensity of their defense, and quickly rotate out to open shooters.

The Lakers need to control the glass and limit the Knicks to one shot per possession. The Lakers have to do a good job of moving the ball and moving bodies to find high percentage shot. The Lakers need to start the offense inside and provide Bynum & Gasol enough touches to affect the outcome of this game. The Lakers bench has step their game up and make an impact.

Starters
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, M. Peace, P.Gasol, A. Bynum
Knicks:
J. Lin, L. Fields, J. Jeffries, B. Walker, T. Chandler

Tip-off: 5:00 PM PST

Television -

  • Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
  • New York:  MSG Network (Kenny Albert, Mike Breen & Walt Frazier)

Radio -

  • Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
  • New York: ESPN 1050 AM (John Andariese & Mike Chispino)

Injuries -

Lakers:

  • Josh McRoberts (Sprained Left Big Toe) Probable
  • Kobe  Bryant (Torn Lunotriquetral Ligament, Right Wrist) Probable

Knicks:

  • Baron Davis (Herniated Disc in his Back) Out
  • Carmelo Anthony (Groin Injury) Out
  • Amare Stoudemire (Personal) Out