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Knicks talk defense, Lakers play it and win handily

Dec 30, 2011, 2:39 AM EDT

Carmelo Anthony, Matt Barnes, Pau Gaso AP

The talk coming into the season was how Tyson Chandler was going to change the Knicks defense.

He might, eventually. But Mike Brown has brought new energy and physicality to the Lakers defense right now — the Knicks shot 31.7 percent Thursday night (and for the season opponents are shooting only 38 percent against the Lakers).

The result was a 99-82 win for the Lakers over the Knicks at Staples. That means the Lakers are 2-2 after having started the season with a back-to-back-to-back without Andrew Bynum. Finishing .500 is a good result. Denver gets to face a better Lakers team with Bynum on Saturday.

This wasn’t a particularly pretty game. Both teams had their moments of sloppy play, like we have seen everywhere the first week of the season due to the lockout. Plus, you can blame it on both teams having poor point guard play. Or you can blame it on tired legs — the Knicks on back-to-back, Lakers on fourth game in five nights.

The difference was the Lakers attacked the rim and the Knicks settled. For example, to start the game, the Lakers were up 14-0 on points in the paint, they pounded the ball in to Pau Gasol. In the end, the Lakers had 44 points in the paint to the Knicks 26 (and a number of those Knicks points seemed to come in garbage time). Tyson Chandler tries but the Knicks team defense leaves him stranded too much.

The Lakers were up 63-51 and the half, then Kobe Bryant asserted himself in the third quarter to make sure the Lakers did not fade. Kobe had 13 points in the third alone as he abused Renaldo Balkman —including a four-point play in the third quarter where Balkman fouled Kobe 26 feet from the basket. Balkman was on Kobe a lot in this game, which is good for Kobe.

Meanwhile, the Knicks started the fourth quarter 1-8 shooting, the Lakers went on a 17-3 run and that was pretty much the ballgame. The Knicks tried to hang around but never made a serious run.

For the Lakers, it’s two wins in a row after a tough start. Their defense has been their strong suit and it is only going to improve with the return of Bynum. In the Phil Jackson era the Lakers usually went as far as their defense would take them. This is a different team, but if they keep defending like this they will win a lot of games.

For the Knicks, they are still trying to figure it out — and they are frustrated about it enough that Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler took technical fouls. After a hard-fought Christmas day win over Boston the Knicks have lost two straight on their West Coast swing. This was the second night of a back-to-back against a good team, you can just write it off. But the Knicks defense has not looked sharp and when the offense matches — a rating of 94.3 points per 100 possessions in this game — it will be hard for them to win.

No reason to panic, but New York needs to get Stoudemire attacking and not floating on the wing as much (he was 4-of-17 shooting). They need to steady their defensive rotations. They need better point guard play out of Toney Douglas and Mike Bibby. They need Carmelo Anthony to keep being this efficient (27 points on 14 shots). They need more offensive games like this from Tyson Chandler (13 points, 11 rebounds).

Overall, the Knicks look sloppy, like a team that needed a longer training camp to prepare for the season. Like the defensive message has yet to sink in.

The Lakers look like a team that hears their new coach and has made defense a priority.

  1. thatboi901 - Dec 30, 2011 at 2:52 AM

    Hate to blame the coach but D’antoni needs some blame. Your superstars are getting T’s every game. Your offense becomes one on one and defense has been laughable so far. Granted the knicks two best players are allergic to defense but this is no reason for the knicks to be messing up the fundamentals on D

    • makjak2 - Dec 30, 2011 at 11:33 AM

      You’re right, he absolutely does need some blame. Execution was poor and that’s a reflection of the coaching. I feel bad that he’s on the hot seat when this is really the first season he has something really good to work with but this was ugly. Not to feed in to the unsubstantiated rumors but I sure hope Phil was at home licking his chops while watching that game.

  2. vaginahurts - Dec 30, 2011 at 3:22 AM

    Knicks are early favorites for most overhyped team in league

  3. anhdazman - Dec 30, 2011 at 5:40 AM

    Chandler, I’m hope you enjoy losing in New York.

    Sign,

    Warrior fans

  4. pl4tinum514 - Dec 30, 2011 at 8:28 AM

    Mike Brown knows defense. He deserves some success after having to play patsy to Lebron for several years in Cleveland. Not a Laker fan, but glad to see Brown getting those guys to shut down some opponents.

  5. omniusprime - Dec 30, 2011 at 8:45 AM

    Nice to see the Lakers playing good defense but they still haven’t scored over 100 points in 4 games, scoring more than the other team is the object of the game. I’m glad Bynum will be back for the next game to give the Lakers more presence in the paint on both ends. We still have to hope that Kupcake will make one good trade during the season to bring in some much needed talent for the depleted frontline. Let’s hope Brown can do for the Lakers what he couldn’t for the Cadavers, win a championship, us Laker fans expect banner #17 to tie Boston. ‘Go Lakers!

    • hoytdadd64 - Dec 30, 2011 at 12:18 PM

      I beleive brown will win a championship in L.A (hopefully before Wade give Lebron his first in Miami). The biggest difference for coach between Cleveland and LA is Kobe over Lebron. Lebron has proving time and time again he can’t handle the big games. He had that one real monster of a playoff game againts Detroit early in his career, the one where he took over and scored all of clevelands points at the end to win it. I haven’t seen that same guy in the end of big playoff games since. But Kobe got that killer instict all the greats have or had. Kobe will make sure Brown get’s is first just hope it’s before Wade gives Lebron his!!!!!!!

  6. dysraw1 - Dec 30, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    Richard started the season talking championship, well how do you that have some nuts. take Melo off the ball its becoming a1 man team. have some faith in Toney Douglas somebody has to get Stat the ball where he can do something with it, those long jumpers are killing our start, sure we have some pieces, but as the coach you have plan to win regardless to whether Stat & Melo are having a good game. Melo is the man no doubt but i cringe seeing him bringing that ball over the time line. build some confidence in your people theres no way we win with 2 players trying to do it all.

  7. brooklynbulls - Dec 30, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    Renaldo Balkman on Kobe??

  8. urodaddy07 - Dec 30, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    I worry that D’Antoni may really not know how to establish a defense first mentality. In Phoenix we saw a run and gun sort of mentality aimed at outscoing teams. This approach will get you past weak teams and even ino the playoffs, but if you can’t play defense you can’t win an NBA championship or even a conference title. Even if he was a “defense-first” type of coach he would have to rein in Amare and Carmelo, and that’s not going to be easy. ‘Melo had good defenders around him in Denver so his deficiencies defensively were not apparent or didnt matter too much and Amare was never really asked to defend in Phoenix. These 2 guys played for several years under these circumstances and it ain’t going be easy to break now to change these bad habits.

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