Pre Game News and Notes
New York Knicks vs. Los Angeles Lakers
The Knicks will start their three game road trip out west with a visit to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers in part of the NBA’s five Christmas Day games. The game will feature the top two scorers in the NBA in Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant going head to head on national television. Here are some things to what for tonight.
The Knicks have been very thin recently up front with injuries to Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby and Amar’e Stoudemire not yet ready to return from offseason surgery. This has left Tyson Chandler as the only big man capable of playing big minutes, as Kurt Thomas can really only give quality spot minutes at this stage in his career.
Today Chandler will be getting some help as Camby will be returning from an 11 game absence because of plantar fasciitis. Camby had played sparingly before the plantar fasciitis problem because of a calf strain suffered in the preseason, averaging only 7.7 minutes per game when he did play.
Something to keep an eye on tonight and throughout the trip is the status of Stoudemire, who is traveling with the team on the trip. It is unlikely that he plays, but Stoudemire does have a jersey and sneakers in the locker room for this afternoon’s game.
-Big Time Matchup
Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant will be the most talked about players in the game tonight, but will most likely not see much of each other outside of switches on defense. Jason Kidd will draw the assignment of guarding Bryant, while Metta World Peace will attempt to slow down Anthony.
In their careers, Bryant has owned Anthony, as Anthony sports a 13-23 record against Bryant led teams and a 2-8 record in the playoffs. But this is not the same Anthony that had played in those games in the past.
Anthony is currently playing the best basketball of his career, as he is engaged on both sides of the court and playing offense very efficiently. He is averaging 28.3 points per game, 0.6 behind his career high, thanks to an outstanding 43.7 percent shooting from three point land.
-Get Back on Track
In the last five games, the Knicks have struggled with shooting the three balls, going 3-2 in those contests. They have shot only 32 percent in those games, lowering their season average to 40 percent, good still for third in the NBA.
The Lakers are not the greatest defensive team, giving up 99.9 points per game, ranking 22nd in the NBA. They are also in the middle of the pack in defending the three point shot, allowing teams to shoot 35.9 percent from the three point line.
The Knicks shot 12 of 25 against the Lakers in the first matchup 12 days ago and will look to get back on track from deep against them again tonight.