Showtime: 7:30pm PT
Plot: It's late March and all that's at stake in a game pitting the Lakers and Knicks against each other is a shot at the lowest playoff seed in the league's most pitiful conference. Not exactly the battle of the titans that TNT or the NBA had in mind when they scheduled this contest last summer, is it? It says a lot that the most compelling storyline of this game will be whether or not a front office executive is watching from the sidelines or not.
The Knicks come into tonight's contest 2 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the Eastern Conference's 8-seed, winning eight games in a row before a disappointing loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. New York has been a true spectacle of horrible basketball, feuding personalities, personnel mismanagement and bloated salaries—in essence, everything that's wrong about the NBA. As bad as things may look for the Lakers at times, be thankful that you're not a fan of the Knickerbockers. The best possible scenario for future success for them involves hiring a front office executive with no experience as a front office executive and paying a "superstar" player $130 million this summer. Not exactly the rosiest blueprint, is it?
However, as of late, it hasn't looked so grim for the Knicks. They have still won 8 of 9, even though many of those victories come over the likes of the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz. New York is a potent team on paper and have, despite the competition, looked like it at times. Anthony is liable to go for 30 to 40 points at any moment, with guards like Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway, Jr. there to supplement his scoring. The Knicks don't defend particularly well, but then again, look at their competition tonight.
The Lakers are coming off a rare win, defeating the hapless Orlando Magic on Sunday. They won despite a second half absence from Pau Gasol, who was hospitalized later that night with a frightening case of vertigo. In his stead, Jordan Hill went for a staggering 28 point, 13 rebound night, destroying all comers even with an impossibly distracting hair-do. Xavier Henry (wrist), Chris Kaman (foot) and Steve Nash (everything) could give it a go tonight, but without Gasol it may be a tall order to beat a team that's been playing well as of late.
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