The Los Angeles Lakers will look to win their sixth consecutive game and keep up their perfect record against teams below .500 as the New York Knicks come to Staples Center.
The Knicks have one of the worst records in the league at 10-26, but have been playing well recently. They had won three straight games before dropping their last two, each of which they had leads in and a chance to win and they do present some interesting challenges for the Lakers.
Julius Randle and and Taj Gibson form a strong and physical frontcourt while Bobby Portis and Mitchell Robinson off the bench assure they will have size on the floor at all times to combat the team’s biggest strength. It has also made the Knicks one of the league’s best teams on the offensive glass so the Lakers bigs will need to be sure they are boxing out.
One player the Lakers must be sure to hold in check is RJ Barrett. He is coming off a 24-point performance in the Knicks most recent game and is probably their best shot creator in terms of getting both his own shot and setting up teammates.
The Lakers team defense should be able to hold the Knicks in check as long as they’re locked in. New York is one of the league’s worst passing teams, mainly relying on isolations to get their offense and a locked-in Lakers squad is more than capable of shutting that down, especially at the rim with the shot-blocking trio of JaVale McGee, Anthony Davis, and Dwight Howard.
As is the case most nights, the Knicks don’t have anyone capable of slowing down Davis and he could be relied upon even further with LeBron James under the weather. While James will play, he could be limited and Davis may need to pick up the slack in that instance.
This will also put more pressure on Kyle Kuzma to have a strong night. Kuzma has been hit or miss recently, either having a big impact or being non-existent offensively and the Lakers will need the former on this night.
The other big key for the Lakers will be guard play. Avery Bradley is expected to play despite turning his ankle in the team’s win over the Pistons and he has been important in setting the tone for the team defensively.
The Lakers need at least two of the Bradley, Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, Rajon Rondo group to step up on any given night. Against the Detroit Pistons, it was Caruso and Caldwell-Pope providing a boost, but establishing some kind of consistency with the guard rotation will be key for the Lakers moving forward.
Getting big leads on teams like this hasn’t been an issue for the Lakers, but maintaining them has been. This is another game where the team should jump out early, but whether they can keep that cushion and cruise to an easy win is another question.
Los Angeles Lakers (29-7) vs. New York Knicks (10-26)
7:30 P.M. PT, Jan. 7, 2020
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet/NBA TV
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN), 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: LeBron James
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Danny Green
PF: Anthony Davis
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Dwight Howard, Alex Caruso
Projected Knicks Starting Lineup:
PG: Frank Ntilikina
SG: RJ Barrett
SF: Reggie Bullock
PF: Taj Gibson
C: Julius Randle
Key Reserves: Mitchell Robinson, Bobby Portis, Kevin Knox