The L-Train is headed to California as the Knicks (9-29) square up against the Lakers (21-17) tonight. New York has lost eight consecutive and are in the middle of a six game west coast trapeze act with no safety netting. Los Angeles is missing Lebron James and has been sub .500 over their last ten games. Their latest loss came at home to a hot Oklahoma City team. LA mostly hung tough but couldn’t match the Thunder’s energy late in the game as Paul George and co. put it out of reach.
Los Angeles has looked somewhat wobbly this season. Perhaps the confusion over who might be on the team in the long term has shaken some guys’ ability to play foot loose and fancy free. One thing that might point to that sort of lack of confidence is free throw shooting. The Lakers are last in the league in that department a paltry 68.8%. Not so nice. Worst of all is Lonzo Ball connecting on a horrific 45%.
Nevertheless the Lakers do get up and down in a hurry and they can cram in some points real fast as evidenced by their 104.24 pace, good for third highest in the league. In a lot of ways the Knicks try to play with that sort of reckless abandon, they just don’t quite have their horses out of the stable yet.
Kyle Kuzma left the last game with a back contusion and is listed as questionable. With Rajon Rondo and Lebron James already sidelined and Micheal Beasley out for personal reasons, the Lakers may have to insert another guard and shift Brandon Ingram up a slot. They really ought to go get Carmelo Anthony.
Get it dunked! Slide him into the starting lineup’s DM’s. Isaac Bonga is only two years older than Anthony anyway. So you lose no eldership!
Reality would imply they’ll just plug Kentavious Caldwell-Pope into the starting unit. Uninventive, but, oh well.
What the Knicks do with Brandon Ingram might be the whole story tonight. If he plays up, he’ll be facing Noah Vonleh and I like Vonleh’s chances of making things difficult for Ingram. If he plays his normal three-slot I can very easily envision a whole slew of problems for Kevin Knox. Ingram was very assertive in their last game and you have to feel like he will follow that track tonight.
Brandon Ingram had 11 passes that would've been assists last night if the shot was made, to go along with the 9 that he did get. Here's a reel of the plays that didn't convert. Some great reads & examples of him directing traffic here. I'll have a longer vid out this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/KnmZdNB2w7— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) December 31, 2018
If LA cans a few more of those, they might have been able to stamp on the Thunder. As it was they were playing from behind and Ingram tried too hard late, stumbling into some bad turnovers in crunch time.
The young Lakers are just a few steps in front of where the Knicks are hoping to be around this time next year. The addition of Lebron James and his band of merry menthol smokers (Rondo, Stephenson and Alex Caruso) certainly fluffs the pillow of expectation. Just slap Zion Williamson and Kristaps Porzingis into this lineup and dump Enes Kanter and Trey Burke. Ugh. When is the All Star break?
Knicks by -17