Kyle Kuzma goes to the basket against the Knicks

Lakers at Knicks, Three Things to Know: April 12, 2021

by Mike Trudell
Lakers Reporter

The Lakers (33-20) match up against the Knicks (27-27) on Monday evening at 4:30 p.m. on Spectrum SportsNet.

Below are three things to know in advance of the matchup:

The Lakers will be the better rested team on Monday, due to New York’s Sunday evening game against Toronto at Madison Square Garden, and L.A. having not played since Saturday. The Knicks prevailed by outscoring the Raptors by four in the fourth quarter, with Julius Randle dunking with 2:04 left, R.J. Barrett hitting a three from Randle at the 34.9 second mark, and Randle hitting two FT’s with 09.9 seconds left to secure the win.

L.A. last played against Brooklyn, in a terrific all-around effort despite that came despite being extremely shorthanded, with Andre Drummond's 20-point, 11-rebound double-double leading the way. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, Wesley Matthews and Marc Gasol all missed the game due to injury, and yet the Lakers emerged from the borough with a victory. They’re hoping to get Kuzma back from a calf strain, as he, Matthews and Gasol are all listed as questionable. Frank Vogel sounded as if Kuzma had the best chance to play, as he almost went on Saturday.

With all of the injured Lakers, two subs stepped into increased roles at Brooklyn, each tallying his best game with the Purple and Gold. Ben McLemore drilled four of his five threes in the fourth quarter towards 17 bench points, while Alfonzo McKinnie did a bit of everything in 27 minutes, scoring 10 points with nine boards, four assists and a steal. Three of McKinnie’s boards were on the offensive end, as he helped create extra possessions with his activity, and his hustle was felt throughout. McLemore’s late threes helped seal the game for the Lakers, snuffing out any chance of a comeback from the favorite to win the East this season. They might not be in the typical rotation when all are healthy, but the two Mc’s have shown themselves quite capable of making a contribution.

Former Lakers are playing very well all over the league this season, but perhaps none better than Julius Randle, who made his first All-Star game while leading the Knicks to a playoff position with averages of 22.8 points (46.1% FG’s, 40.8% 3’s), 10.7 boards and 6.1 assists in 37.0 minutes (2nd only to James Harden). Each is a career high for the 7th-year pro that was drafted 7th overall by the Lakers in 2014-15, allowing him the opportunity to play two seasons with Kobe Bryant.

Randle left the Lakers in 2018 to sign with the Pelicans for one season, before moving on to New York in 2019, signing a long-term contract with New York. His biggest area of growth has been his perimeter shooting and playmaking, as the Knicks are able to run their offense through him as a true point forward.


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