December 12, 2017, 2:30 pm
The Lakers (10-15) head to Madison Square Garden to face the Knicks (13-13) on Tuesday for another nationally televised game. Los Angeles is on a surprise two-game road win streak to start off their trip and hope to extend their success against the Kristaps Porzingis led Knicks.
While most of the team spent Monday preparing for this pivotal game against the Knicks, Lonzo Ball spent the day focussed on hawking knick knacks at a pop-up store for his family’s Big Baller Brand.
Ball is coming off of a decent performance in which he produced five points, nine assists, five rebounds and one block. However, he had a minus-6 rating while on the floor and was vastly outplayed by Jordan Clarkson relegating him to the bench for the entire fourth quarter. I imagine the Lakers would prefer he sweat out the day in the gym working on his shot, footwork, and physique rather than working on selling sweatshirts and foot wear.
Multiple Lakers are coming off of stellar performances including the aforementioned Clarkson who was spectacular with 22 points, six assists, five rebounds, one steal and a plus-12 rating.
He was joined by his two benchmates Julius Randle and Kyle Kuzma. Randle scored 12 points with six rebounds, three assists, two blocks, one steal and a plus-16 rating. Kuzma posted his third double-double in four games with 12 points, 14 rebounds, two assists, one block and a massive plus-21 rating.
Brandon Ingram has been on a tear lately and is coming off of a 18-point, six-rebound, one-assist, one-steal and plus-6 performance. He is averaging 16.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.9 blocks and 0.8 steals on much improved 45.3 percent shooting from the field.
The Knicks are led by Porzingis, a player the Lakers passed on in the draft three years ago when they selected D’Angelo Russel instead. Porzingis leads the Knicks with 25.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.9 3-pointers while shooting 46.0 percent from the floor and 84.7 percent from the line. He is a unique talent with his ability to shoot from the outside, handle the basketball, block shots and run the court. He aptly has many nicknames including The Unicorn because players of his size and skill set would appear to be mythical.
Another promising young player for the Knicks is Frank Ntilikina, a six-foot five-inch point guard with a seven-foot wingspan that they made the No. 8 overall draft pick in this year’s draft. He has started to produce of late with averages of 8.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.4 steals a game including two games of three steals. It is this defensive contribution that tantalized the Knicks — leading them to draft him ahead of other potential point guards who have had early career success such as Donovan Mitchell and Dennis Smith Jr.
- One key element of success for the Lakers has been limiting their turnovers where they average 17.2 (29th) in the NBA compared to 16.0 (26th) for the Knicks. The Lakers have averaged only 13.0 miscues a game over the last two games, a major contributor to their two-game win streak.
- These two teams are drastically different when it comes to converting their free throws as the Knicks shoot 79.7 percent (6th) vs. 70.2 percent (30th) for the Lakers.
- Los Angeles excels at making hustle plays on defense with 8.4 steals (9th) and 5.7 blocks (3rd) in direct contrast with New York who averages only 6.8 steals (27th) and 4.5 blocks (18th) per game.
- The Lakers allow a whopping 108.7 points per game vs. 103.8 points per game by the Knicks. This has a lot to do with pace (105.06, 1st) as the Lakers have actually vastly improved their team defensive rating (102.7, 8th) on the year compared to (105.3, 15th) for New York.
Lonzo Ball (PG)
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG)
Brandon Ingram (SF)
Larry Nance Jr. (PF)
Brook Lopez (C)
Jarrett Jack (PG)
Courtney Lee (SG)
Lance Thomas (SF)
Kristaps Porzingis (PF)
Enes Kanter (C)
Tim Hardaway Jr. (leg stress injury) – OUT
Time: 4:00 PM PST, 7:00 PM EST
Television: ESPN, SPECSN/SPECD, SPORTSNET ONERadio: 710 AM ESPN, 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES