Los Angeles comes into tonight’s game against the New York Knicks amidst a 3 game losing streak. The last loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers is looking to be the low point of the season.
Down 16 in Tuesday’s game, the Lakers made a run at a comeback, but despite 42 points from Kobe Bryant, they fell short yet again, losing 100-94. Dwight Howard scored 19 and grabbed 20 rebounds, but it would take more than just the stat sheet to understand the loss against the Cavs.
Kyrie Irving, after missing 11 games due to a broken finger, scored 28 points while dishing out 11 assists. When healthy, the former Duke guard has put on a dazzling display on the court, showing why he was a number one draft pick two years ago.
For USA Basketball fans, the matchup was much awaited after the trash talking that occurred between Irving and Bryant at a practice in July. (In case you missed it, here it is.)
Irving challenged Bryant to a game of 1 on 1 for $50K.
Come on young man.
Kobe sat back, calling the game “easy money.” On Tuesday, the two had a chance to prove who had the upper hand. When Kyrie backed down Kobe, the veteran showed the young star he still has a lot to learn.
Irving tried a pump fake, only to have his shot blocked. Back to the drawing board for the young guard.
Apart from Kobe’s performance, Los Angeles continues to play slow, uninspired basketball. Nothing about their game looks fluid at the moment and if this continues for much longer, the city is going to be screaming for a change.
That is, if Kobe doesn’t first.
As the past has shown, he isn’t the most patient when it comes to his team. Just ask Shaq.
Overall, the Lakers have the pieces to compete every night, but things just aren’t blending together at the moment. To make the necessary changes, players will need to bend a little, revamp their play style to a way that works best for the team.
Just ask Carmelo Anthony how that works.
Los Angeles will get the chance, playing the red hot Knicks tonight in Madison Square Garden. The Knicks are coming off a close victory over their New York rival, the Brooklyn Nets, where a late three by Jason Kidd won the game.
For New York, Carmelo Anthony has been everything that was advertised. He put up 45 against the Nets on Tuesday and has been averaging nearly 28 points a game, thus far.
Now, scoring has never been a problem for Anthony ever since he was drafted into the league.
The Syracuse alum was drafted 3rd overall in 2003. Coming off a NCAA title as a freshman, some believed he deserved the number one pick in the draft. There was a high school star, however, who stole the show.
That kid was Lebron James.
It seems since then, James has been beating Carmelo to the spot time after time. Being drafted first, making it to the finals first. Now, winning the first ring.
This season, it appears that Anthony has had enough.
Before the year, Carmelo has been known as selfish, sometimes apt to chucking up shots, and above all, lazy on defense. Some believed he could never be more than a star on a losing basketball team.
With a 16-5 record, the Knicks are leading the Eastern Conference and much can be attributed to Carmelo’s revamped playing style.
While still scoring at will, Anthony has shown there are other parts to his game that can help his team win. Although his stats may not show it, his decision making has helped the team to this point, and he’s also shown he can play defense.
He’s bought into Mike Woodson’s system, and realizes that it takes more than a team of stars to win in this league.
Thursday night’s match-up is sure to be a tough one, two teams playing on opposite sides of the spectrum right now. The flaws of Los Angeles have been laid out in front for everyone to see, and the fans at Madison Square Garden are going to make sure the Lakers know it.
To stand any chance tonight, or this season, Los Angeles needs to figure out who they are as a team, and it’s going to take work from all ends to prevail.