Tonight the Lakers take their act to the bright lights of Broadway as they look to take on Carmelo Anthony and the surging New York Knicks.
It’s a clash of two teams heading in two very different directions.
The New York Knicks, with the arsenal of Jason Kidd and J. R. Smith, are looking like a Broadway-worthy cast, as they find themselves leading the Eastern Conference with a 16-5 record, with 2 of those wins against the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat. The Knicks have won 8 of their last 10 contests, including a 100-97 victory Tuesday night, over their new cross-town rival, Brooklyn Nets. Carmelo poured in 45 points to help in the Knicks effort. And with the play of veteran, Jason Kidd and the offensive explosions of Smith off of the bench, the Knicks are looking like legitimate contenders for the Larry O’Brien trophy.
The same can’t be said of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers most recent performances wouldn’t even cut it at the Apollo Theater. They currently reside in the cellar of the Western Conference with a 9-13 record. Even with the loaded talent that this squad employs, they seem to be missing something. This was made more than apparent when the Cleveland Cavaliers picked up just their 5th win of the season, defeating the Lakers 100-94 on Tuesday night in Cleveland. Kobe Bryant did all he could, scoring 42 points in the contest. Dwight Howard added 19 points of his own on 3 for 9 shooting and grabbed 20 rebounds.
One of the more interesting sub-plots is this game is that this will be Lakers Head Coach, Mike D’Antoni’s first appearance at the Garden since he resigned as the Knicks Head Coach. Also worth noting is that the superstars of the NBA usually put up huge numbers when they visit the Knicks. Kobe Bryant knows this all too well, posting a Madison Square Garden record 61 points in 2009. But the Lakers will have to focus where they have been struggling to focus: Defense.
The Knicks are 5th in the league in scoring. The Lakers don’t seem to be able to guard much of anything these days. Their defensive rotations are slow and even worse, most of the Lakers don’t seem to have a sense of urgency when it comes to guarding the cylinder. And offensively it seems like players not named World Peace and Howard are content with standing around watching Bryant. If these old habits continue to persist, the Knicks will have the Lakers looking less like a team that should be competing for a title, and more like a Kindergarten rendition of “Peter Pan”.
Grab your popcorn, Laker fans. The show is about to begin.