After loss to the Knicks, Lakers travel to Washington for crucial game against the Wizards.
Mike D’Antoni’s trip back to New York City was far from a welcome home party when the Lakers took on the Knicks in Madison Square Garden Thursday night.
From the start, Los Angeles’s new coach was serenaded with boos from his former crowd. He graciously accepted and went on to the task at hand, beating his former team.
The Knicks had different plans.
They got off to a hot start, opening with an 11-5 run. Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony were going shot for shot early on, with 8 and 9 points, respectively. But Carmelo and the Knicks refused to let up.
Anthony remained hot, ending the first half with 22 points and his team up 41-27. The Knicks shot an unbelievable 17-23 (73.9%) from the field that quarter.
The Garden was going crazy, chanting M-V-P for the star forward…something Kobe is used to hearing only for himself.
The hot start continued through the second, with an onslaught of three pointers by many different faces from the Knicks squad. The Lakers looked lost and defeated already.
By half, Los Angeles was down 68-49 and things couldn’t look much worse.
The Lakers made things interesting in the second half, showing signs that they were a professional basketball team. They made stops on D, hit key baskets and slowly cut the deficit. With 90 seconds left, the lead was down to six, but in what seems to be the recent trend, it just wasn’t enough. The Knicks won 116-107.
Again in Thursday’s game, the Lakers played poor defense early, looking lackluster and uninterested to cover the entire court.
They played down the entire game and fell behind an insurmountable lead, even playing a Knick team without Anthony. He was sidelined in the third with a sprained ankle.
Bryant led the Lakers in scoring with 31. Metta World Peace chipped in 23 and Dwight Howard scored 20.
This is the 6th loss in the last seven games for Los Angeles, who are 1-5 since Pau Gasol’s injury.
A good sign coming from last night’s loss, however, was the courage the Lakers showed they still had. Amidst an unbelievably ridiculed season, the Lakers never stood a chance early on.
They were caught with a barrage of threes and the red-hot Knicks shot almost 62% in the first half.
But the Lakers came out of halftime showing heart. They could have rolled over and called it a night, but this team still has the fight in them. They’re going to need it if they want to make the playoffs.
Tonight, some would say, showed that it’s always darkest before the dawn.
Its not easy listening to the criticism night in and night out, but the Lakers must be patient. They need to play hard and get wins where they can, but this isn’t the team that is going to lead Los Angeles through the playoffs.
Last night, Kobe led the team in scoring, assists, and rebounds. (Something Steve Nash and Pau Gasol will hopefully contribute to soon enough).
That’s the least of the worries. Bryant also led the team in turnovers, personal fouls, minutes played and shots taken.
He’s been one of the few bright spots on the season, attempting to play the role of Black Mamba, quarterback, and sometimes, defensive mastermind.
You can’t ask this much from anyone in their 17th season, even Kobe Bryant.
Tonight, the Lakers have a matchup against the Washington Wizards. The Wizards come in sporting a 3-16 record, but are 3-4 in their last 7. Something Los Angeles cannot boast about.
Washington’s backcourt has been aggressive and playing well, led by Jordan Crawford and rookie Bradley Beal. Point guard John Wall remains sidelined with a knee injury.
In Washington, the Lakers will try to put an end to their four game skid, but the Wizards can smell the weak and are hungry for a win.