Pre-Game Report: Carmelo, Amar’e and Knicks Visit Staples Center

New York Knicks (1-1) at Los Angeles Lakers (1-2)
7:30 PM PST, December 28, 2011
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Radio: 710 AM (English), 1330 AM (Spanish)

Knicks Projected Starting Line-Up:
PG: Toney Douglas
SG: Landry Fields
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Amar’e Stoudemire
C: Tyson Chandler

Key Reserves: G Bill Walker, F Jared Jeffries

Suddenly the start of the season was not so hard to stomach, this after the Lakers stymied the Jazz on Tuesday night. But now a real test against an up-and-coming New York Knicks squad led by former Suns coach Mike D’Antoni.

Frontcourt: In their first game of the season against the Celtics on Sunday, the Knicks began the game well, and finished even better. However, it was the mid-part of the game that really held the Knicks back. Once you get past the stars of the Knicks (Anthony and Stoudemire), there is not much more. The duo combined for 58 points on 18-of-28 (.642) shooting. Meanwhile, when out of the game, the atmosphere changes. The tandem of Jeffries, Renaldo Balkman, and Josh Harrellson combined for just four points and six rebounds (half belonged to Balkman). Then there is Tyson Chandler, who evidently is a game-changer. Expect Chandler to have more of an impact compared to his first game that saw him score just seven points and grab three rebounds.

Backcourt: The Knicks feature a young, but potentially dangerous duo in Fields and Douglas in the backcourt. These two must be watched at all times. With the main focus on Carmelo and Amar’e, teams seem to forget about the backcourt. These guys can shoot, too. But, they are by no means superstars. In fact, last season, Fields regularly disappeared after a stellar first-half of the season. Douglas can score more, but is very streaky. Coming off of the bench relief is Bill Walker, once a “can’t miss prospect” alongside Michael Beasley at Kansas State. You can bet that D’Antoni will sub out his two guards in favor of these hungry young players. Whoever wants to perform will be given the minutes, and that can spell trouble for the purple and gold.

Fun Facts:

  • Toney Douglas was drafted by the Lakers in 2009, but later sent to New York in exchange for a 2011 2nd-round draft pick (Andrew Goudelock) and $3 million.
  • The Lakers went 2-0 against the Knicks in the 2010-11 season.
  • This will be the final game of Andrew Bynum’s four-game suspension.

Keys to a Laker Victory:

Take it to the stars
Aforementioned, the Knicks rely on their stars to provide the bulk of their offense. With foul trouble, coach D’Antoni will be forced to pull them. If anything at all, easy points will fall. But if done right, the Lakers will draw fouls.

Make free throws
With the excess fouls come free throw opportunities. The Lakers haven’t been exceptionally good in their first three games. As the saying goes: “Make your free throws, they’re free!” Against a team like New York, a few misses could be the difference between that victory and defeat.

– Don’t check out of the game
If fans believe that the Lakers are bad at playing a full 48-minutes, you did not see the Knicks game against the Celtics. The first quarter and fourth quarter were strong for New York. However, the middle half was quite the opposite. They were outscored 64-45. When the Lakers are given an opportunity like this, they need to run with it. Shut them down, and knock them out as early as possible.

Prediction: Lakers 99, Knicks 91

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