What You Already Know:
For what seems like the past decade, the perennial underachievers from New York have struggled out of the gates, The Knicks’ roster is loaded with talent at nearly every position, with household names such as Eddy Curry, Stephon Marbury, Zach Randolph, Jamal Crawford and Quentin Richardson all calling New York home. Still, despite a balanced scoring attack, the Knicks average only 94 points per game and do not have a clear cut leader on the floor as the Lakers do with Bryant.
However, even with New York’s many deficiencies, the Lakers struggled against the Knicks last year, losing both games to New York. The Lakers lost 99-94 at Phil Jackson’s old stomping grounds at Madison Square Garden and fell 107-106 in heartbreaker in Los Angeles.
What You Might Not Know:
The Knicks give up 102 points, with Eddy Curry the only Knick who’s averaging even a half a block per game. While Curry, Randolph and David Lee may be big bodies, but don’t confuse them with being defensive stoppers.
Eddy Curry has been a beast in recent match-ups with the Lakers, scoring 19 and 27 points respectively in the team’s two games last year. With the Lakers unable to counter Curry’s 6’11” frame, the New York center went off in both wins, easily powering his way to the hoop with little resistance. Once again, Curry’s play – although down a little bit this season – will be one of the game’s most critical X-factors.
Nate Robinson – a key spark plug for the Knicks the past two seasons – has not seen many minutes this season from Isiah Thomas, apparently falling into Thomas’ ever changing doghouse. This could be a break for the Lakers who typically struggle against smaller guards in the Robinson mold.
What You Need To Know:
Zach Randolph – acquired by the Knicks in trade this offseason – always puts up monster stats versus the Lakers, feasting on the team’s lack of interior presence to dominate in the post.
But, things are a changing down low for the Lakers this season with Bynum emerging as a shot blocking force in Kwame Brown’s absence. Still, there’s no doubting that the Lakers will miss the injured Brown’s superb man-to-man defense on Randolph.
The Lakers should be able to make up for the deficit with Kobe’s consistently stellar play against New York. Kobe loves the spotlight and there’s no bigger stage than the hallowed grounds of Madison Square Garden. Moreover, as previously mentioned, the Knicks lack a lockdown defender who can pester Bryant, likely leading to a big night from #24.