The Lakers (1-4) finally notched their first win of the season against the Brooklyn Nets in their fifth contest on Friday night, completing their first game of a five game road trip. The Lakers trailed by double digits in the first quarter but fought back in the end to win 104-98. This is the first time the Lakers held their opponent to under a 100 points and to no surprise they got their first win as well. The Lakers will play their second game on the road trip against the Knicks (2-4) on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. Here are interesting storylines and matchups to get you ready for the game.
Julius Randle vs. Kristaps Porzingis:
This will be a fun matchup to keep an eye out on. Randle and Porzingis were both lottery selections at their power forward position the past two years. The young players are already wowing fans with their highlight plays and athletic dunks and are playing great basketball. Porzingis is averaging an impressive 12.3 points and 8.3 rebounds and Julius Randle is remarkable in his own rights while averaging 14 points and 8 rebounds. Their numbers are pretty identical but their style of play is anything but that. Porzingis is a smooth player who is a couple inches taller and likes to shoot from deep while Randle uses his brute strength and speed to punish his defenders in the paint. Porizingis is sneaky athletic for his game and already had a few put back dunks this season, something Randle has to be aware of. I expect Randle and Porzingis go at each other. It should be fun to watch these two up and coming players compete.
Expect Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell to have a good game:
The Knicks on Friday started Jose Calderon and Sasha Vujacic in the backcourt, I don’t have to be a basketball expert to know that they will struggle guarding and keeping up with Clarkson and Russell. Clarkson and Russell are both more young and athletic than the veteran pairing of the Knicks’ backcourt, so I expect them to have a decent game on both ends of the floor. The Lakers’ backcourt also had a good game against the Nets, Clarkson finished with a decent 16 points and three assists and Russell finished with a career-high 16 points and three steals. Russell was impressive in his fifth professional game of his career, but as like the previous games, he only played three minutes in the fourth quarter. I hope Scott finds a way to play Russell in the crucial moments of the game, especially when Russell does well enough throughout the game to earn that opportunity. I mean he did this to Jaret Jack that could happen to Calderon or Vujacic.
Kobe Bryant vs. Carmelo Anthony:
Have the emergency services ready because I think Carmelo might kill Kobe. We all know how horrible of a defender Kobe has been in his declining years in the NBA, so we can only pray that Carmelo go easy on Kobe because this might be his last game at MSG. Anthony is averaging 21 points and seven rebounds this season, and hopefully his numbers stay around that average on Sunday. Kobe and Melo are close friends since their days playing with the national team, so the latter can’t send his friend out dropping 50 points on him, can he? Will he?
The new rotation of Larry Nance, Jr. and Metta World Peace
Larry Nance, Jr. and Metta World Peace made their season debut on Friday and both player offered tremendous energy. The former was impressive in his midrange game hitting two shots from the corner and the latter was solid on the defensive end with one steal and forced many tough shots. Rookie Nance, Jr. finished with six points and five rebounds. Most people think that Peace is not an NBA caliber player, but they can’t deny that his defensive instincts are still great. He offered tremendous presence on defense, after the game Kobe praised Peace’s activity:
“Metta made all the difference in the world…raises the play of everybody on the floor defensively.”
Metta could play a crucial part on Sunday’s game if Kobe has a difficult time containing Melo. This is the first time that we’ve seen Peace and Nance, Jr. on the floor and it turned out to be a successful decision, albeit against a bad team. Hopefully, we can see these two players get more minutes on a consistent base.
Where to watch the game: TWC Sports Net12:30 pm Pacific time
Stats are from NBA.com