The Los Angeles Lakers face the tall task of trying to surpass the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference standings to avoid the dreaded play-in tournament. Luckily, they have a relatively light schedule to end the season.
But first, Anthony Davis and company have to get past the red-hot New York Knicks fresh off of a big win of their own.
The last time the Lakers faced the Knicks this season, Frank Vogel was without Davis and LeBron James. Julius Randle was incredible, posting 34 points and 10 rebounds in a 111-96 Lakers loss. This time, losing is not an option if L.A. wants to get back to the No. 6 seed in the conference.
Vogel gave credit to the Knicks for their recent win against the Clippers, then discussed what the Lakers need to do to win on Tuesday night.
“Obviously, the [New York] Knicks are playing exceptional basketball this year. To beat the [Los Angeles] Clippers on their hometown floor is a big win. Coach Thibs has done a phenomenal job on both sides of the ball, with their defense and the way they’re playing together offensively and how he’s using Julius [Randle].
“I think he’s just done an exceptional job with their group and obviously we’re going to have to play our best basketball to beat them even with AD playing well. We’ll have to be at our best.”
Davis also had something to say about his former teammate Randle’s play and the Knicks’ success.
“They’re playing really well. They’re a hard-playing team. They feed off Ju[lius Randle]. He’s their rock. The head of the snake for their team. That’s probably going to be my matchup. Another Kentucky guy. We played with each other in New Orleans, so that’s my brother. That’s my brother over there. That’s going to be a fun matchup.
“Even last year when we played, I didn’t play much because I think I fell and hurt my back, so I didn’t really get the chance to get that matchup. But they’re fun. They’re a team who’s hot. Came in here and beat the [Los Angeles] Clippers today, so they’re rolling and we got to get that game, too. So it’s going to be a fun matchup.”
If anyone in the entire NBA is equipped to slow down Randle this season, it’s Davis. The Lakers star is one of the few people versatile enough defensively to handle the Knicks All-Star on the perimeter and in the paint.
For Vogel, he’ll for sure be without Dennis Schroder in his rotation and it looks like James will also be out as well as he takes at least one more day to rest his sore ankle.
Vogel applauds Davis for playing with playoff intensity
After two consecutive incredible games from Davis, Vogel threw some praise his way for the sense of urgency he was playing with.
“That’s what the playoff intensity is about and sometimes you have a playoff seeding locked up and you kind of coast into it. You’re not as sharp as you need to be going into the playoffs, but the urgency we’ve been forced to play with I think has come out in Anthony’s performance the last couple of games, and I think it’s going to benefit our whole group.”
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