WHAT IT MEANS: 17 to 7. The Lakers' Big Three, literally, featuring the 7-foot Pau Gasol, 7-foot Andrew Bynum and 6-10 Lamar Odom combined for 14 offensive rebounds (Ron Artest had the other three) -- and that was the tale of the tape. The Lakers outscored the Knicks 50-30 in points in the paint -- not to mention 57-40 scoring in the second half -- and they went on to win big, 109-87. The Lakers' size also had a significant impact on defense during the very physical game, which featured four technicals, one flagrant foul (Ron Artest) and one ejection (Bynum). The Lake Show held the Knicks to their worst shooting output of the season (36 FG percent). "We never got into a rhythm and missed shots early," Mike D'Antoni said. "We tried to grind it out, but they are just too big to get into a slugfest with them."
TURNING POINT: When Kobe Bryant decided it was time. While the Knicks kept it close at halftime (52-47) the Black Mamba single-handedly widened the gap within a minute of the second half starting. He hit back-to-back 3-pointers in Landry Fields' grill, which extended the Lakers' lead to nine, 58-49. Bryant finished the third quarter with 10 points and the Lakers led 81-70 at that point. "It was very exciting for me [to face Bryant]," Fields said. "I've watched him my whole life. My whole thing was trying to get my hand up in his face. He's one of the best players of all time. I'll try to do better next time."
DIFFERENCE-MAKER: Bynum, who played his best game of the season since returning to the lineup after offseason knee surgery. Even though the Lakers' center was ejected in the fourth quarter after bumping referee Leon Wood and then continuing to complain to him over a foul call on Amare Stoudemire, he was able to put his stamp on the game. Bynum contained the Knicks' anchor, Stoudemire, to 1-of-10 shooting and five points in the first half. While STAT finished the game with 23 points, he got it going with only about four minutes to go in the third quarter, when the Knicks were already down by 15. "He's a good player and played well," D'Antoni said of Bynum, who had 18 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. "His length made it tougher."
WHAT'S NEXT: No Brandon Roy, no problem? Not exactly. When the Knicks take on the Trail Blazers on Tuesday -- their third opponent on their four-game road trip -- Fields will have to cool off their new go-to shooting guard. Since Wesley Matthews replaced the All-Star Roy -- who is out indefinitely with a troublesome left knee -- at the starting 2 position Dec. 17, he's been averaging 18.2 points per game and shooting 39.3 percent from downtown. Two nights ago, the undrafted rookie out of Marquette scored a career-high 36 points against the Timberwolves, thanks to his seven 3-pointers -- another career high. Beyond Matthews, they're the same team that beat the Knicks 100-95 on Oct. 30, who are also led by power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (20.2 ppg), point guard Andre Miller (12.7 ppg) and defensive center Marcus Camby (11.3 rebounds per game and 1.82 blocks per game). While the Blazers are not a high-scoring team (95.2 ppg; sixth-worst in the league), they make it up on defense, holding opponents to 94.5 ppg (eighth-best).
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