After demolishing Utah, consistent play from Kobe and Pau Gasol and the Lakers new-found depth contributed to an easy win against New York. While it was expected that if Kobe, torn ligament or not, were on the court, he would score, and that Pau would be scoring and rebounding, it was not certain at all those early game benchwarmers would get their shots, but they have. Major contributions from Matt Barnes and Jason Kapono, and greatly improved play (over last year) from Steve Blake, have been major elements of the Lakers early season turnaround.
Mike Brown has shown flexibility and good sense in trying different combinations, and while the jury is a long way from being out whether or not he is the second coming of Del Harris, he IS showing he’s no Randy Pfund.
Now appearing in two games each, Kapono has show the reason for his signing, averaging seven points on 15-min./game while so far at least, hitting 60% from behind the arc, and given similar minutes, Barnes has contributed tenacious defense, timely shooting, and some added leadership to both the second unit and while on the court with the starters.
The Knicks on the other hand, are a mess. They play like five separate one-man teams, and the talent of Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler is unharnessed and wasted. Knick guard play has been abhorrent, with Toney Douglas masquerading as a starting point guard, and the over-the-hill Mike Bibby backing him up. Baron Davis waits in the wings, but with his serious back injury, the four week guess on his return may be unrealistic and who knows how well he will be able to play with what figures to be lingering pain. The names Landry Fields and Bill Walker do not conjure up images of consistent, productive two guards. Likewise up front, the names Josh Harrelson, Renaldo Balkman, and Jerome Jordan demonstrate the total lack of depth and experience in the second unit. The Knicks get to play Sacramento next, and based on the Lakers play in Capital City, the Knicks are in for another tough evening.