New York Knicks (13-10)
- The Knicks are off to their best start since the 2012-13 season, and tonight they visit the Staples Center to take on the Lakers in a series that has seen Los Angeles have the upper hand for the past 20 years, holding a 24-15 record over New York.
- Carmelo Anthony has led by example as of late, scoring over 30 points for the 5th time this year in Sacramento on Friday. He is now only 127 points behind Elgin Baylor on the all-time scoring list, having just passed Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler and Gary Payton. In 34 meetings against the Lakers, Anthony has averaged 24 points and six rebounds.
- Kyle O’Quinn told me at practice yesterday, “Everybody has to be ready every night because Coach will go with the hot hand, and sometimes it might not be your night, but Carmelo’s leadership ability is constant and his scoring leads the way.”
- The East remains tight at the moment, with the teams ranked third to sixth (New York, Boston, Charlotte and Chicago) all within a half-game of each other. Behind them are Detroit, Atlanta, Milwaukee and Indiana, who are also separated by a half-game, meaning every night matters. The Knicks — winners of 3 straight on the road — want to keep that good feeling moving forward.
- Derrick Rose told me that he is feeling better, rationalizing based on how much time he can stay on the floor during practice. Rose said, “The training staff is making sure I stay on top of my treatments, I’m learning more this year about my body than ever before.” He misses playing every night, elaborating “I love playing in close games, and we are improving almost every game. Now on the road we are learning to maintain a lead, and that’s improvement, we can always figure out how to be better.”
LOS ANGELES LAKERS (10-15)
- The Lakers bench has averaged 54 ppg, which ranks as the best in the league. It’s led by guard Lou Williams, who had 35 points against Phoenix in a 119-115 loss at the Staples Center recently.
- Williams has scored the more points off the bench at this point in the season (137) than anyone else dating back to 1970-71. Williams is one of only five players in the past 30 years with three 35 point outings off the bench in the same year.
- Los Angeles has employed nine different starting lineups due to injury, but Williams and Jordan Clarkson, who averages 14.7 ppg, carried the team to a 7-5 start. Injuries to DeAngelo Russell and others slowed their momentum, as the Lakers have lost 10 of their last 13 games. At this point last year they were only 4-21 on the season, thus showing serious progress in Luke Walton’s first season behind the bench.
- The Lakers have some serious 3-point threats, with Nick Young shooting 41.8% on the year from distance along with former Knick Jose Calderon firing at a clip of 41.7%.