- Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Senior Writer
- 0 Shares
LOS ANGELES -- If New York Knicks president Phil Jackson is going to spend the final month of this season evaluating his new organization from top to bottom before putting his stamp on things this summer, he got a good look at what ails the Knicks in Tuesday night's 127-96 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Jackson watched the game from a luxury suite at Staples Center, far from the familiar sideline he used to roam as coach of the Lakers.
After the game, Jackson voiced his displeasure with the Knicks' performance, telling The New York Times, "It was awful, huh."
He sat even farther from his fianceé, Lakers president Jeanie Buss, who sat in her regular seats in the second row across from the Lakers' bench.
Jackson was joined in the suite for most of the second half by 2010 Lakers NBA Finals hero Metta World Peace, who was released by the Knicks earlier this season.
While the intrigue surrounding Jackson was high coming into this first game against the franchise with which he won five titles, the game itself wasn't much to watch.
The Lakers scored 51 points in the third quarter to turn the game into a rout. It was the most points the Lakers had ever scored in any quarter and the most points the Knicks had ever given up in any quarter.
"It's very disappointing, just from the fact I don't think we competed tonight. ... Our focus just wasn't there," Knicks star forward Carmelo Anthony said. "I don't want to say I'm concerned, but at this point, we've got to win basketball games and we've got to do it quickly."
Jackson also attended New York's shootaround earlier Tuesday, when he had a brief chat with Anthony in the visitors locker room.
Anthony was cryptic about what the two spoke about, saying only that he'd seen Jackson "here and there, not that we sat down and talked. But we'll figure that out. I'm pretty sure we'll get together very soon."
Jackson declined comment when approached at shootaround, other than to say hello to several reporters who had previously covered him in Los Angeles.
It was unclear whether he would accompany the team on all or part of its five-game trip, although key members of the Knicks' front office, including general manager Steve Mills and assistant general manager Allan Houston, are on the trip.
The Knicks are frantically chasing the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and this loss didn't help. New York (29-42) is now three games back of Atlanta for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 11 games to play and five back of seventh-place Charlotte.
"This could make or break our season," Anthony said earlier Tuesday. "This is a big road trip for us."
The Lakers are in the midst of a historically bad season and still coping with seeing Jackson move on to New York. Tuesday's win was their second in a row, however.
Asked whether he understood why Lakers fans might resent the Knicks for taking Jackson away from them -- not that he had a current official role in L.A. -- Anthony responded, referring to Knicks owner James Dolan: "I wouldn't say that. It was a clean playing field. Mr. Dolan did what he had to do to bring him here. I'm pretty sure them guys had the same opportunities."
The Knicks had won eight in a row before blowing a 17-point lead in a loss to Cleveland on Sunday and losing Tuesday's game to L.A. Coach Mike Woodson said he felt the team needed to get to at least 35 wins to have a chance at making the playoffs, although closer to 40 wins would be better.
"It's there," Woodson said at shootaround. "We're watching now, but we've just got to win. We can't afford to give games away like we did the other night, up 17 and let it get away.
"I still think it'll probably be between 35-40 that'll get in. Charlotte's schedule is probably a little lighter than Atlanta's and our schedule. And they've been playing pretty solid."
24mMarc Stein and Tim MacMahon
2hMarc Stein and Calvin Watkins