Knicks vs. Lakers Preview: Can Healthy New York Break Out of Funk?

Kenny Ducey previews Saturday's NBA game between the Knicks and Lakers, including betting odds and a prediction.

Knicks vs. Lakers Odds

Knicks Odds +2
Lakers Odds -2
Over/Under 214.5
Time 8:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Knicks and Lakers have had disappointing seasons, but for one night they each have the opportunity to build some momentum with a win on national television.

With the better defense and the healthier defense, do the Knicks really deserve to be underdogs here? Let’s take a closer look.

Knicks Healthy, Eager to Break Funk

The Knicks have now lost seven of their last nine games, though it’s hard to blame them given the level of competition. Those losses came to the Hornets, Timberwolves, Pelicans, Cavaliers, Heat, Bucks and Grizzlies — all of which could be playoff teams, and four of which are in the top four in their respective conference.

Furthermore, all of these teams have played great defense lately, which is why it’s unsurprising to see the Knicks have a 105.4 offensive rating, which is second-worst in the NBA during that eight-game slide. The saving grace here for New York is that, defensively, it has stayed afloat and ranked 11th during that time — right behind the Lakers.

The other saving grace is that the Knicks are finally healthy. Aside from Derrick Rose, the entire of the roster is expected to be active for this game and should be able to contribute. Having a fully-staffed frontcourt to deal with Anthony Davis and a deep perimeter defense to slow driving ball-handlers will be vital.

Speaking of the frontcourt, Mitchell Robinson could be a key in this game. He’s been excellent defending star centers all season long, and he’s been strong for the Knicks over the last two weeks, adding nearly five points per 100 possessions on defense. It’s a significant development after his 2021-22 season got off to a rocky start.

Loss of Anthony Hurts Ailing Lakers

Things went from bad to worse for the Lakers on Thursday night when Carmelo Anthony limped off the floor late in the second quarter after straining his hamstring. It was the latest blow to a team which has dealt with absences all year long and is currently playing without LeBron James.

Anthony was a vital part of L.A.’s offense with James sidelined. In the four games following James’ injury, the veteran averaged 15.8 points on 47.8% shooting in 28.4 minutes and even added around a block and a steal per game. For a team with no shooting or creative ways to score, Anthony has been something of a revelation.

For the season, the Lakers have a +1.5 Net Rating with Anthony on the floor and a -5.1 with him off, according to With James out in the last four games — a smaller sample size — the Lakers are a +6.3 with Anthony in the game and a staggering -18.0 with him on the bench.

So it’s certainly significant that Anthony will miss this game against his former club, and it goes without saying the same goes for James. In the last week and a half without James, the Lakers have ranked 21st in offense with just 108.4 points per 100 possessions and 15th in defense 112.8 allowed per 100 possessions.

The lone hope here for the Lakers, aside from Anthony Davis, could be Russell Westbrook. The embattled point guard has put together a great five-game run without James, averaging 20.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists on 47% shooting. He’s also turned the ball over just 3.4 times per game, which is significant given he’s averaged well over four in the last few years.

It also should noted that Trevor Ariza became Anthony’s replacement on Thursday and was a +14, adding tremendously on the defensive end and hitting some timely threes. He can certainly be of use.

Knicks-Lakers Pick

The Knicks have taken a lot of sharp money, and that makes perfect sense. In a battle of two bad basketball teams, New York has the advantage of health and defense, something L.A. simply can’t claim.

The job Robinson has done on some of the league’s best centers can’t be overstated, most recently holding Bam Adebayo to six points in Miami. He should be able to fend off Davis enough for this Knicks offense to take advantage of a rare soft matchup.

On top of that, I’m not sure how the Lakers are going to score without Anthony, and against a Knicks defense which has been tremendous despite their losing streak.

Pick: Knicks +2 (-110)