Frankly, I'd be much more giddy if Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony were available to play this game because it would make a win so much more likely. The Lakers are undoubtedly a better team than the Nets, Jazz, or Wizards - all of whom the Knicks have beaten on this winning streak - so the Knicks will really have their hands full!
Last time these two teams met, it was the third game of the season for the Knicks and they sucked mightily. The Lakers blew them out at the Staples Center in a game that featured some putrid offense and a lot of Kobe Bryant sticking his chin out and talking trash in Italian to the Knicks bench. Here's what I'll be looking for tonight:
- WHO GUARDS KOBE?!
- To start, Landry Fields will get the job. Historically, Fields hasn't been ripped apart by Bryant, but he hasn't done well either. I'm particularly excited to see if Iman Shumpert gets a chance to guard Kobe. Shump's got the speed, strength and smarts to stick with Kobe. Walker could probably muscle Kobe up a bit, but he'll likely give Kobe lots of and-1s because the Bryant is far too clever to be denied by Bully.
- I don't even need to go into this one too much. Jeremy Lin has sparked the team and the league with his out-of-nowhere excellence. The caviat in Lin's recent play is that it's been against pretty poor defensive teams. While he's out-played some truly excellent PGs (Deron Williams, John Wall), the team defense wasn't so great. Tonight, he could easily do what he wants against Derek Fisher and Steve Blake, but the Lakers' team defense is pretty good, so it might be a different story. If Lin gets rolling, don't be surprised to see Kobe guard him a bit.
- Jared Jeffries and Tyson Chandler vs. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum doesn't seem like much of a matchup but it might be. Tyson and Jared are both superb defensively, and Gasol and Bynum are very well-rounded but can dominate on offense. It could be interesting/fun to see how these four go at it.
- Metta World Peace hasn't been working out, so he's becoming The Artest Formerly Known as Ron.
- Since he receives inconsistent playing time, Luke Walton spends much of his efforts trying to form a Star Wars fan club within the organization. Rookie Andrew Goudelock would love to join, but according to Walton, Andrew has "Much to learn, Young Padawan."
- Troy Murphy and Josh McRoberts have formed a tight bond as frontcourt benchmates. This has resulted mostly from their love of bird-watching, though McRoberts is still convinced he will one day find out that Troy is actuall Big Bird from Sesame Street.
Get ready! It would be so unbelievably awesome if the Knicks won this game, but my hopes aren't up. If Lin crosses Bryant over once, I'll consider it a victory.