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Friday, December 30, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Lakers 99, Knicks 82

By D.J. Foster


What It Means: This loss is obviously a little more understandable than the loss to Golden State, but the fact remains that the Knicks never really tested the Lakers in what could have been a huge statement game. The Knicks folded down the stretch, but more importantly they proved they have no answer when one of their stars has a bad offensive outing, losing 99-82 in L.A.

Problems Defensively: The weakside defense for the Knicks tonight was, well, weak. By overcompensating for Kobe Bryant on the wing, New York routinely allowed easy layups and dunks to the Lakers cutting big men. It’s becoming more and more clear that Tyson Chandler, as good as he is defensively, is not a cure-all for the Knicks’ defensive woes.

Lost Identity: The Knicks went the first 17 minutes of the game without a single fast-break bucket. The natural reaction may be to point the finger at the Knicks’ shaky point guard situation, but the real culprit was the inability of the Knicks’ defense to force turnovers or long misses.

A Little Testy: Carmelo Anthony, Chandler and Amare Stoudemire all picked up technical fouls. The refs were quick with the whistle all night.

Bench Play: The Knicks' bench was outscored by the Lakers' bench, 40-17. Mike Bibby is capable of setting the dirtiest screens this side of John Stockton, but brings little else to the floor at this stage of his career. Renaldo Balkman and Bill Walker were attacked defensively away from the ball, and Josh Harrellson served as nothing more than a space-eater. Steve Novak’s 3-point shooting was essentially the only high point for the second unit in this game. The Knicks need to get healthy, and fast.

No Risks: The high screen-and-roll (the Knicks' bread and butter) loses a lot of its luster when the guards running it aren’t willing to take risks. Toney Douglas, or Anthony for that matter, never tried to throw a rolling Chandler a lob pass, or thread the needle when their big man slipped the screen. The Knicks' lack of aggressiveness led them to settle for the most inefficient shot in basketball -- the long jumper.

The Bright Side: Despite shooting poorly as a team, the Knicks were able to get their stars the ball where they like it. Stoudemire got plenty of open mid-range jumpers, but just couldn’t find his stroke.

Anthony, meanwhile, did not receive his usual diet of post touches, perhaps because of the presence of the Artest formerly known as Ron (Metta World Peace) and the length of Matt Barnes. Despite the troubling lack of post opportunities, Anthony did use his first quick step to slash to the rim and draw contact throughout the evening. Unfortunately, the way the Knicks are currently defending, they need both Stoudemire and Anthony to be on their A-games offensively -- not just one or the other.