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Lakers vs. Knicks Preview: Bounce back opportunity at the Garden

LeBron James may or may not play in MSG for the second straight year in a row.

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NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at New York Knicks Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers are back at it on Tuesday and this time it’s against the New York Knicks, who they face on their 9th back-to-back game of the season. It hasn’t been an ideal past few days for the purple and gold, who were (and maybe still are) rightfully frustrated with the officiating from last Saturday’s rivalry matchup against the Boston Celtics that resulted in a loss and who also didn’t have their best players suit up the following game in a blowout defeat versus the Brooklyn Nets. To say that their current east coast road trip could’ve started on a better note is an understatement.

And as if things couldn’t get any more frustrating, a developing story that came about yesterday afternoon was that Darvin Ham mentioned in his pre-game presser that LeBron James is currently experiencing significant soreness on his left foot and will be evaluated today to determine his status moving forward. So in short, it’s uncertain whether or not James will be in uniform for the second straight year in a row in Madison Square Garden (MSG) on Tuesday.

James, who missed last season’s game against the Knicks in MSG due to a suspension, has often said that this is his favorite arena to play in. So while it makes sense for many including the Southern California News Groups’ Kyle Goon to assume he’s going to make an effort to play tonight, we’ll know how severe his current injury is based on whether or not he makes an appearance on the court or wears street clothes.

Los Angeles will face a New York Knicks team (27-24) who has been up and down this season and has split their last 10 games (5-5). Like the Lakers, you never know what you’re going to get with the Knicks team on a daily basis — they can beat some of the best teams in their conference but also lose to some of the worst ones.

Although in fairness to the Knicks, they have been healthier than the Lakers all season and are getting consistent significant contributions from their two best players in Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson as of late. The Lakers need to watch out for those two key players, who are huge reasons why their team has the league’s eight-best offense (115.1).

Another thing to look out for is how the purple and gold respond to their past two frustrating losses. With how exhausting and disappointing the last few days have been, their body language and performance will say a lot about the state of this team moving forward. They have a lot of catching up to do in the winning column of the Western Conference standings and they’ll have to get back on track without rest and health on their side on Tuesday. We’ll see if the Lakers can pull off a feel-good win and snap out of their current losing spell.

Notes and Updates

  • With his fifth assist of the night yesterday, Russell Westbrook passed Garry Payton for 10th place on the NBA’s all-time assist list. He also cracked 28,000 points against the Clippers last week, making him only the 28th player to achieve such a feat in NBA history.
  • The Lakers haven’t had much success at MSG in the past 10 years. They’ve only won twice (‘19-’20 season AKA the title year and ‘16-’17) during this span and they have the opportunity to change that tonight.
  • The Lakers list Anthony Davis (right foot stress injury) as probable. LeBron James (left ankle soreness) is questionable while Patrick Beverley (left knee soreness) and Austin Reaves (left hamstring strain) won't be available.
  • But according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, LeBron is expected to play tonight,
  • As for the Knicks, only Mitchell Robinson (right thumb surgery), Trevor Keels (G-League) and Jeffries DaQuan (G-League) are listed as out.
  • In case you missed it, The Athletic’s Shams Charania released a report today on the latest trade intel around the league. With the trade deadline set to expire in exactly 10 days, some notable names Charania said to look out for are Phoenix Suns’ Jae Crowder, Toronto Raptors’ Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr.

The Lakers and Knicks will tip off at 4:30 p.m. PT on Tuesday. The game will be televised nationally on NBA TV and locally on Spectrum SportsNet.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani.

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