After stepping foot in Boston and running the Celtics off their home floor, the Lakers head to New York where they will face the Knicks on Saturday. This will be Los Angeles’ fifth stop in their current Grammy road trip and only appearance in Madison Square Garden for the regular season.
Start time and TV schedule
When: 5:30 p.m. PT, Feb. 3
Where: Madison Square Garden
The Lakers’ victory against their arch rivals Thursday was the perfect encapsulation of how bizarre this season has been.
Just when they didn’t have both LeBron James and Anthony Davis in their lineup for the first time this season, the Lakers ended up not only beating the best team in the league but also one that had lost only twice at home this season. I wrote in my last preview that L.A. had to play a near-perfect game to beat the C’s at home and true enough, Austin Reaves and co. came through. The Lakers, sans their superstars, put together their best win of the season.
What’s even more ironic and hilarious is that just after I mentioned that a nightmare season was brewing after those dispiriting back-to-back losses to the Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks sprinkled in with some drama featuring LeBron James and Christian Wood. And yet, the purple and gold added the Celtics to the list of contenders they’ve gotten the best of this season, along with the Clippers, Suns and the Thunder.
Yet, the Lakers have somehow lost multiple games against teams below .500, like the Rockets, Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs. It just goes to show how inconsistent this team has been all season. However, it’s games like this victory against Boston that make us believe they’re still a lot of fight left in this Lakers team, especially when they play with the type of effort and energy that they did.
Of course, it’s important not to get too carried away with the Lakers’ most recent victory. After all, they converted 52.8% of their three-pointers, which is an anomaly given that they average 36.9% this season. Although what’s worth praising is L.A.’s defense, which only allowed 38 points in the paint, a far cry from what happened on Christmas Day when the C’s put up 58 points. On top of that, the Lakers bested the Celtics in transition proving that they have what it takes to beat their opponents in this department every night.
Now, the Lakers' goal is to carry this feel-good victory over to their next match against the hottest team in the league. The Knicks, who have won nine straight games in a row, are 15-2 since OG Anunoby played his first game with them on Jan 2. Since that trade, they’ve ranked first in defense and seventh on offense. Their 14-2 record in January was the best stretch of basketball they’ve had since 1994.
Jalen Brunson —who was named an All-Star for the first time in his career this season — is playing exceptionally right now, averaging 27.1 points and 6.4 assists on 41.7% (!) 3-point shooting per game. The Lakers’ backcourt will have their hands full with him, especially as Jarred Vanderbilt won’t be available on Saturday or the foreseeable future due to a foot injury he suffered against Boston.
Speaking of injuries, the Lakers should make the most out of the absence of Julius Randle, who put up 27 points and 14 rebounds against them in their matchup. If Davis suits up for this one, he should win this matchup against Isaiah Hartenstein and Precious Achiuwa, assuming he’s relatively healthy. And as always, for the Lakers to have the best chance to win, the key is to get a balanced scoring effort from everyone in the rotation, which has been the consistent theme of most of their impressive victories this season.
Hopefully, the Lakers will add to their impressive list of victories this season by beating the current hottest team in the league and snapping their nine-game winning streak. Let’s see if Los Angeles has what it takes to conquer New York on Saturday.
Notes and Updates:
- For the Lakers’ injury report, Anthony Davis (bilateral Achilles tendinopathy and hip spasms) and LeBron James (left ankle peroneal tendinopathy) are listed as questionable.
- On top of Vanderbilt being out, Cam Reddish (right ankle sprain) and Gabe Vincent are out.
- As for the Knicks, as mentioned above, Julius Randle (shoulder) will not be available as well as Quentin Grimes (knee) and Mitchell Robinson (ankle). Meanwhile, OG Anunoby (elbow) is labeled as questionable.
You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani