New York Knicks vs. Los Angeles Lakers Preview and Pick – Point Spread

New York Knicks (3-10 SU, 5-8 ATS) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (10-3 SU, 6-7 ATS), 10:30 p.m. EST, Tuesday, November 24, 2009, Staples Center, Los Angeles, Cal.
by Ryno of

Point Spread: Knicks +13/Lakers -13
Over/Under: 209.5

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It’s the East Coast against the West Coast, the two biggest cities in America, New York against Los Angeles, as the Lakers host the Knicks.

That all sounds good, but looking at these two basketball teams, the matchup isn’t as great as it sounds. It’s really the 10-3 Lakers, the defending NBA champions, against the 3-10 Knicks, who are preparing for another NBA Draft lottery.

Despite a bad start to the season, the Knicks are playing better in their last three games. After two straight seven-point wins over the Pacers and the Nets, the Knicks nearly knocked off the Celtics at home on Sunday. The Celtics won the game by two in overtime on a buzzer-beater by Kevin Garnett, 107-105. Al Harrington, who has carried the Knicks off the bench many times this season, once again led the team in scoring with 30 points. David Lee dominated down low with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Nate Robinson, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari each scored in double figures as well.

Harrington leads the Knicks with 20.2 points per game. Lee is second in scoring with 17.5 points per game and first in rebounding with 9.9 per game. Gallinari, Larry Hughes and Chandler are all averaging at least 12 points per game. Chris Duhon leads the team in assists with 6.2 per game.

The Lakers are led by Kobe Bryant, who is scoring 29.9 points per game this season. Andrew Bynum has been the most pleasant surprise for the Lakers, as he is finally healthy and contributing. Bynum is looking like one of the top centers in the league right now with 19.9 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. With Pau Gasol being injured and teams paying more attention to Bynum, it is even more impressive. Ron Artest is the only other Laker averaging double figures with 11.6 points per game. Lamar Odom is only scoring 9.4 points per game, but he leads the team in assists with 4.8 per game and is second in rebounding with 8.5 per game.

Gasol returned from injury and has played the past two games for the Lakers. He had 24 points and 13 rebounds in his debut against the Bulls and 15 points and seven rebounds against the Thunder.

The Lakers have been at home since last Sunday, November 15. They started the home stand with a loss to the Rockets, but since then they’ve won three in a row, each by double digits, over the Pistons, Bulls and Thunder. In the win over the Thunder, Kobe had 26 points, six rebounds, seven assists and zero turnovers. Bynum had 25 points and nine rebounds.

The one area that the Knicks actually can compete with the Lakers is down low. Lee, Gallinari and Harrington can all score points. Lee is a very strong inside player, and Gallinari and Harrington can pull Gasol out to the perimeter and take him off the dribble. Between Gallinari, Harrington and Chandler, the Knicks can match up with Odom and Artest. The biggest problem for any team playing the Lakers is guarding Kobe, and the Knicks will have to put either Hughes or Chandler on him. The Knicks actually do match up decently with the Lakers, and the Knicks can score a lot of points, so if the Knicks can play their game like they did against the Celtics on Sunday, they can hang with the Lakers.

This season, the Knicks rank 29th of 30 teams in points allowed with 107.9 per game, 28th in field goal percentage allowed (48.8), and 25th in field goal percentage for (43.6). The Lakers rank second in the league in field goal percentage allowed (42.4). The Lakers won both games against the Knicks last season, both by single digits.

Ryno’s Pick: The Knicks are playing with confidence right now after winning two straight and then almost beating the Celtics. The Lakers have been at home for the past week and have been coasting to their last three victories, so they could be a little nonchalant and the Knicks may catch them at the right time. If the Knicks are going to pull off the road upset, Hughes and Chandler must play terrific defense and cause Kobe to have an off night. If the Knicks can do that and also rebound well, they should be able to keep the game close. Both of these teams will score a lot of points, so the over is a good play, but with so many points being given to the Knicks, it’s wise to take the points. Take the Knicks +13.