It’s game 5 of 5 in the Lakers’ home stand today and they will be looking to secure a big win over the New York Knicks before they embark on a two-game road trip. A win for the Lakers would put them at the .500 mark for the first time this season. That prospect seemed unfathomable at the start of the season, when the Lakers were 0-5 after 5 games and 2-10 after 12. A win tonight would also have the Lakers tied for the 8th and 7th seed in the Western Conference, just one game back of the Warriors in 6th place.
The Knicks are on the second night of a back-to-back, having fallen to the Clippers in a tough, scrappy game last night. The Knicks are now a half game back of their New York rivals the Brooklyn Nets for the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference. Both teams are in need of a win tonight, which should set up a highly competitive matchup.
Jalen Brunson is out for the Knicks with foot soreness. LeBron James remains out for the Lakers, alongside Mo Bamba. D’Angelo Russell is no longer on the injury report regarding the ankle sprain which kept him sidelined for 2 weeks before his triumphant return in Friday’s win over the Raptors.
The Knicks tend to be a very physical team inside on both ends of the floor, led by Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson. Anthony Davis will have a tough battle on his hands, but his recent stretch has proven he’s up for the challenge. If the Lakers are able to draw fouls and attack on one end while containing Julius Randle on the other end they will set themselves up well. Randle had a tough outing last time out against the Clippers and will be looking to bounce back, so the Lakers need to force him into tough shots and not let him see the ball go through the hoop early.
Great Bench Production
In Friday’s win the bench, led by Dennis Schröder, Austin Reaves, and Rui Hachimura, was a main component of the Laker comeback. The shot creating ability provided by Reaves and Schröder combined with the craftiness of Hachimura were the drivers behind LA coming back from two separate double-digit deficits. Los Angeles won’t need that amount of production every night, as Anthony Davis only had 8 points on Friday, but having that scoring punch off the bench is a luxury that Darvin Ham and his coaching staff didn’t have at their disposal earlier in the season.
Feed Off The Energy
Inside Crypo. Com arena there is a new sense of optimism around the Lakers, which has been absent for what seems like an eternity. D’Angelo Russell commented on it after the game Friday, talking about feeding off the crowd’s energy and how that helped the Lakers get over the finish line. The Lakers should look to come out early and get the crowd going, building on the momentum from Friday night, as well and looking to capitalize on the Knicks’ potential lack of energy on the second game of their back-to-back.
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