The Los Angeles Lakers put their five-game losing streak to rest when they completed a season sweep of the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday, winning 93-85. A fantastic opportunity to earn a second consecutive victory awaits the Lakers as a familiar face comes to town with his New York Knicks. That face, of course, is former Laker player and current head coach Derek Fisher, who has had a nightmare first season of coaching, as the Knicks sit at the very bottom of the league with a record of 12-51. These two teams met back on February 1 in New York, where the Carmelo Anthony-led Knicks defeated the Lakers 92-80.
Frontcourt: Perhaps the most recognizable name on the Knicks active roster is former number one overall pick Andrea Bargnani. After missing significant time to injury early in the season, the 29-year-old from Italy has put forth 12.9 points and just 4.5 rebounds per game. Barganani won’t offer much defensively or on the glass, but he’s an excellent shooter for a seven-footer. He’s also coming off a 20-point outing in a losing effort on Tuesday against the Utah Jazz.
Lou Amundson has bounced around the league a bit in his eight years of experience, but is seizing this year’s opportunity for some playing time with the Knicks. The veteran has averaged seven points and 5.9 rebounds while blocking 1.3 shots in 22.6 minutes per game this season. The one thing Amundson will assuredly provide is energy. He works hard on both ends, relentlessly fighting for rebounds and giving great effort on defense. He’ll battle with the Laker big men down low, so that should be something to keep an eye on.
Lance Thomas is another player trying to take advantage of some additional minutes in this down year for the Knicks. He didn’t see much action in his three seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans, but saw an increased role with the Oklahoma City Thunder this season before eventually being traded to New York. Like Amundson, Thomas plays with good effort, trying to outwork his opponent on both ends of the floor. He really struggled in their last game, so he’ll be looking to bounce back in Los Angeles.
Backcourt: Langston Galloway has had quite the rollercoaster ride with the Knicks this season. After being invited to training camp, he was waived and signed on with the Westchester Knicks — the team’s NBA D-League affiliate. He was then later called up by New York and eventually inked a partially guaranteed two-year deal with the team. The rookie has been a bit of a pleasant surprise, producing 11.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 30.4 minutes for the Knicks this season.
The Knicks are Alexey Shved’s third different team this season after stints with the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets. He was traded just before the February 19 deadline and has played fairly well in just a few short weeks with New York, posting 11.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists a night thus far. Shved actually flirted with a triple-double against the Jazz, tallying 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in the loss.
Keys to Victory:
Don’t Get Outworked: With Carmelo Anthony sidelined for the rest of the season, this Knicks roster is deprived of talent. They’ll be looking to end a five-game losing streak, so the Lakers need to be prepared for a team playing with extreme effort. If Los Angeles plays with high intensity and doesn’t underestimate its opponent, the end result should be a win for the purple and gold.
Jordan Clarkson: The main focus at this point in the season is to develop young talent that may be on the roster beyond this season. Jordan Clarkson has greatly exceeded expectations since he entered the starting lineup and looks to be a terrific young piece for the Lakers moving forward. He should continue getting a heavier dose of minutes and reps, especially in the fourth quarter if the game is close. Finishing tightly-contested games would provide the youngster with tremendous learning experience.
Strong Defense: Due to an overall lack of talent, the Knicks struggle mightily to score the basketball. They rank near the bottom of the league in several offensive categories, and although the Lakers have had their share of defensive issues this year, this is a team they should be able to keep under control for the majority of the game. If they can limit New York’s quality looks, the Lakers should find themselves with back-to-back wins to their credit.
New York Knicks (12-51) at Los Angeles Lakers (17-46)
7:30 PM PST, March 12, 2015
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Knicks Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Langston Galloway
SG: Alexey Shved
SF: Lance Thomas
PF: Lou Amundson
C: Andrea Bargnani
Key Reserves: PG: Shane Larkin, PF: Jason Smith, C: Cole Aldrich
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Jordan Clarkson
SG: Wayne Ellington
SF: Wesley Johnson
PF: Jordan Hill
C: Tarik Black
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