Sunday, January 26, 2014
W2W4: Knicks vs. Lakers
By Ian Begley
Here are a few things to keep an eye on during Sunday afternoon’s New York Knicks-Los Angeles Lakers game:
Encore? The biggest storyline is Carmelo Anthony and his record-setting 62-point night on Friday. What can he do for an encore?
The conditions seem to be perfect for another big game for Melo.
He is playing on national television, facing Mike D’Antoni, a coach whom many believe he feuded with, and going up against a Lakers team that can’t stop anyone. Plus, having Kobe Bryant on the bench should serve as more motivation.
“Will I score 62 on Sunday? No,” Anthony said. “But as a team we’ve got to have that same mentality, that same focus that we had [Friday].”
Anthony was electric on Friday, hitting 23 of his 35 shots to set the Knicks and Madison Square Garden single-game scoring records. Bryant had the previous Garden record (61).
If Anthony’s recent history against D’Antoni and the Lakers is any indication, he could be in for a big afternoon Sunday.
Carmelo, who some believe influenced D’Antoni’s decision to resign from the Knicks post in March 2012, scored an eye-popping 46.5 points per 48 minutes against the D'Antoni-led Lakers last season.
Another factor in Anthony’s favor against Los Angeles? He’ll probably be playing power forward. Anthony started there against the Bobcats because Andrea Bargnani was out with an elbow injury.
Last season, Carmelo averaged an NBA-high 28.7 points per game while playing primarily at power forward. This season, he has played more small forward. It hasn’t had a major impact on his numbers, but the Knicks are struggling at 16-27.
For what it’s worth, J.R. Smith sees plenty of value in playing Carmelo at power forward.
“He better play the 4 the rest of the year. Whenever he’s at the 4, it causes so many mismatch problems,” Smith said. “And I think that helps our wings as well and Shump. So vice versa on the other end. When their 4 is guarding Shump or something like that, we’re able to take advantage of that.”
More from J.R.? Speaking of Smith, he had a strong night against Charlotte. The reigning Sixth Man Award winner poured in 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting in 31 minutes. He hit three of four 3s and handed out four assists.
In what could just be a coincidence, Smith is shooting 42.6 percent when he doesn’t share the floor with Bargnani and 31.9 percent when he’s on the court with Bargnani. That’s something to keep an eye on during Bargnani’s absence.
Jeremy’s time? Another overlooked aspect of Friday’s win was the emergence of Jeremy Tyler, who had eight points and five rebounds in 22 minutes. He hit four of eight shots and pulled down three offensive rebounds. Tyler also blocked two shots.
With Bargnani, Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin out, Tyler figures to get an increase in minutes. So he’s worth keeping an eye on this afternoon.