After a horrible performance against the Warriors, the West Coast road trip continues with a game at Staples Center against the struggling Lakers. The Knicks better bring their A-game this time round because, for all the hate they've received so far this season, the Lakers are still a top-tier team.
Luckily for the Knicks, the Lakers are another team with a major weakness at the point guard spot. Unfortunately, the man next to Derek Fisher (who'll be running the point) is a future hall-of-famer who, at his age, can still go off on any given night. Kobe is angry right now; the cancelled CP3 trade is still fresh in his mind (especially with him strutting his stuff for the Clippers in the same building) and he's not happy about the poor start either. Kobe is extremely dangerous when he's angry.
Both team's bench units are equally underwhelming, especially with the Lakers losing Odom. The premier Laker off the bench is Metta World Peace and along with him the Lakers will throw out the likes of Josh 'McBob', Steve Blake and Troy Murphy (who couldn't even earn minutes on the thin Celtics roster last season). As we know from last night, the Knicks reply isn't much better and three games in to the season we'll already - due to injury - be reaching into the depths of our bench, bringing on Lin and Jordan - not a good sign.
Once again, I'm going to predict a Knick victory, but after last night's poor showing I'm not quite as confident. The keys to the game will be shooting a higher percentage, playing good defense in all 4 quarters and maybe going in a different direction at the point for the time being (maybe Lin or Bibby should start).
D'Antoni has to find a better way to run the offense than allowing Douglas to orchestrate matters. I hope he gives Lin a shot, even though he has no experience or even a full practice with the team. Bibby did a better job than Douglas last night, but his defense was less than adequate and his ability to penetrate inside is equally limited.
Until Barron Davis is healthy, the Knicks need to find a more effective way to free up players to get open shots and to involve Chandler somewhere near the basket.
Above all there needs to be more movement on offense--with more players setting multiple pics, more ball movement, and more effort to take the ball inside to the basket. The stagnation with the first and foremost option being the 3 ball has to stop. Simply giving the ball to Stat and Melo for shots will not work, especially when they are double teamed and no one else moves on the floor. Everyone needs to 1st box out their man and place a priority on securing rebounds.
Steve Novak hit the one shot (a 3 ball) he took last night, but never saw the ball again. Jerome Jordan played all of 12 seconds--and hit a J just after as the 1st half buzzer went off. Jordan can help the 2nd unit with rebounding--a factor woefully missing last night. Harrellson may be capable of playing the 4 where his outside shot can be effective. Experimentation in which more players are involved in the offense is worth trying, especially at this early stage of the season. D'Antoni cannot approach the game with the same-old, same-old game plan.