The good news for the New York Knicks: They remain the NBA's most valuable franchise, valued at $1.4 billion in a report released by Forbes this week. The bad news: Everything that happens on the court. New York hosts the league's No. 2 most valuable team, the Lakers ($1.35 billion) in Sunday's second national TV game on ABC for sports bettors. It's unlikely to be the ratings bonanza it would have been in previous years between the two biggest markets in the U.S. New York opened as a 5.5-point favorite on NBA odds with a total of 206.
The big (and really) only storyline in this one is what Carmelo Anthony can do for an encore following his NBA season-high 62-point night on Friday against Charlotte as the Knicks rolled to end a five-game losing streak. Is Anthony a ballhog? No doubt. But he was 23 of 35 from the field against a very good defensive team and even added 13 rebounds. That point total was both a Knicks and Madison Square Garden record -- and probably wants to make Bobcats owner Michael Jordan come out of retirement to break it.
Anthony was the first player in 14 years with at least 60 points and 13 rebounds. Perhaps the most amazing stat was that Anthony didn't have a single assist (or turnover, block or steal). That is almost hard to do. He joins the injured Kobe Bryant as the only active players to score at least 60.
The victory might have saved the job of Knicks coach Mike Woodson. It was the first time the Knicks (17-26 ATS, 22-21 O/U at sportsbooks) had held a team under 100 points -- and Woodson is supposed to be a defensive coach -- since the end of their five-game winning streak on Jan. 13. New York still has to go 38-1 to end the season to match last season's win record.
Anthony might have to keep shooting at will because forward Andrea Bargnani was lost earlier this week indefinitely due to a torn ligament in his left elbow. The former No. 1 overall pick by Toronto was the Knicks' big offseason acquisition and was averaging 13.3 points and 5.3 rebounds. If you read the New York media it says the Knicks are even more shorthanded on big men because both Amare Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin are out with injuries as well, but Bargnani rarely ventured into the paint despite his 7-foot frame. He was shooting a career-worst 27.8 percent from long range.
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End Of The Road
Los Angeles (24-19-1 ATS, 25-19 O/U at sportsbooks) probably can't wait until the end of this game as it will fly home after following a season-high seven-game road trip. The Lakers have lost the past three but generally played well other than Friday's 114-105 loss in Orlando. It seemed like the travel finally caught up with L.A. as it was outscored 59-40 in the final 21 minutes. Pau Gasol called the team out publicly after that loss. Does Gasol realize who the Lakers are right now?
Adding salt to the wound, starting forward Xavier Henry, who was considered likely to return for this game against New York, now has been ruled out at least another 10-14 days. Henry has been sidelined with a bone bruise but the fact he will undergo an MRI on Monday in L.A. is telling. It's still unbelievable that Henry is only 22. He's averaging 10.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists this year.
Don't expect a very warm welcome for the Lakers' Mike D'Antoni in this game as the Knicks struggled under his watch. The Lakers have allowed foes to score 100 points or more in each of their last 11 games. D'Antoni is an offensive guy unlike predecessor Mike Brown.
This is the first of two meetings, and we are pretty confident they won't face off in the Finals. Each won at home last season with Kobe averaging 31.0 points in the two. Anthony averaged 32.0 in the two. New York is just 4-6 in its past 10 at home against the Lakers.
Free NBA picks: Knicks +5.5 and over. The Lakers see the end of the rainbow, so to speak, on the long road trip. They will be gassed -- and Anthony would love nothing more to throw up another 50 or so to draw more attention to himself.