2 Keys to Victory: Lakers vs. Knicks

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Following their loss to the Spurs on Friday, the Lakers will look to get back on track in a home showdown against the New York Knicks tonight.

The Lakers sit in eighth place in the West at 15-11 and will hopefully get back some critical players tonight after Cam Reddish, Anthony Davis, and D’Angelo Russell all missed Friday’s loss.

With Knicks center Mitchell Robinson out 8-10 weeks with an ankle surgery, the LakeShow will seek to capitalize on their own health as well as the Knicks short-handed front-court tonight.

After a strong In-Season-Tournament championship run, followed by several mediocre performances, let’s walk through our two keys to a Laker victory tonight.

Strong Defense

In Laker wins this season, they’ve posted a solid 103.3 defensive rating, compared to their 123.5 defensive rating in losses. Given that the Knicks have been hot in December, with an offensive rating of 125.2, LA must play strong defense by prioritizing limiting second-chance points and forcing turnovers.

With stellar perimeter defenders Cam Reddish and Jarred Vanderbilt likely active tonight and Anthony Davis down low, we can expect to lock this team down on our home court.

Fortunately, for the Lakers’ sake, they’ve played great defense at home this year, with a 103.2 defensive rating in such games. 

Knicks superstar Jalen Brunson has been the Knicks' best scorer this season, averaging 25.5 points on 45.8% shooting from three.

Shutting Brunson’s three-pointer down has been crucial in Knicks' losses this season, as he shoots a mere 28.4% from beyond the arc in such games compared to a whopping 57.4% in wins.

So long as the Lakers can emphasize neutralizing Brunson’s three-point shooting ability, they have a good shot at winning. 

Davis Dominance

Anthony Davis has been rock-solid over the past three games, posting 37+ point performances in each of them, and the record shows that when AD is dominant, so is the rest of the team.

In Laker wins this season, Davis averages 25.7 points compared to 20.9 in losses. This trend is also consistent with rebounding, as Davis averages 13.3 boards in Laker wins compared to 11.2 in losses.

With Knicks center Mitchell Robinson out, Davis will look to eat up on backup center Isaiah Hartenstein and former Laker Julius Randle. 

Davis is questionable tonight with a hip/groin injury, so we’ll monitor his status prior to the tipoff. If Davis can’t go tonight, LA will rely on LeBron James to carry the extra load on the offensive end and backup bigs Jaxson Hayes and Christian Wood to crash the boards. 

The Lakers split the season series against the Knicks last season and will look to grab the win in the first of their two games this season tonight.

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