There’s nothing left for the Los Angeles Lakers to do but wait until summer arrives. Meanwhile, facing a New York Knicks team that wants this season to last but aren’t good enough to make it happen, they get to break some scoring records, win 127-96 and get big nights from Xavier Henry and Nick Young.
The Lakers went into the game without any of the veterans who were part of the bad season last year. No Pau Gasol, no Steve Nash and obviously no Kobe Bryant. It also meant no one to slow things down for a team that is bad, but it is at its best when it simply runs the floor as quickly as possibly, attempting to create mayhem and hide the fact that it doesn’t have a defense.
Luckily, it ran into the New York Knicks, a team that needs only one loss to fall into despair after an 8-game winning streak, forgetting that there’s a playoff they’re still capable of reaching. The Knicks played stupid basketball on both ends of the floor, and it’s sometimes hard to decide if Woodson is actually preaching to this kind of embarrassing defense or are these the players that simply wing it on the floor, and when there’s no effort the few defensive foundations they do have simply collapse in an embarrassing mess.
The Lakers shot 57.8% from the field and 64.8% from beyond the arc. Almost every play created an open shot, not to mention every turnover turning into points or at least an easy shot. As much as you’d like to credit Lakers players for their vision of finding the open men at the right time, it isn’t exactly brain surgery. This is what you should expect from NBA players – making the right decision, especially when a defense makes it so comfortable for teams to not make mistakes.
Nick Young scored 20 points and had a funny moment when a 3-pointer he took bounced in and out, but he began celebrating with his back to the play. In games like this, with this kind of margin, it doesn’t really matter, but for those will less humor who take a serious look at every possession in an NBA game, this was simply unprofessional.
Henry led the Lakers with 22 points, Kent Bazemore added 18 points and Jodie Meeks added 14. This group looked like the Lakers from earlier this season – No Bryant, and a bench that plays a lot better than the starting lineup, not to mention the fun factor and the enthusiasm bouncing off the players at one another.
For the Lakers this was simply a feel good game. An example of how D’Antoni basketball can look when it is played the right way, hoping to exclude the Knicks’ defense out of the equation. This isn’t just about players fighting for contracts, with the Lakers or the rest of the league next season. This is about Mike D’Antoni trying to prove he’s worthy of being part of this rebuilding process.
Steve Nash mentioned D’Antoni’s only flaw is not being Phil Jackson, and that is why he’s been such a target for the media and the fans. It’s probably a couple of other things to, which were easier to gauge last season and not this weird, garbage time 2013-14.