Remember when Knicks-Lakers used to be a marquee matchup and always nationally televised? Those days are long gone as the two scuffling franchises meet Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
First Winning Streak Coming For Lakers?
The Lakers (1-4) got their first win of the season on Friday night in Brooklyn, 104-98 -- so at least they don't have to travel for this one. That game featured the two most overpaid players in the NBA in L.A.'s Kobe Bryant and Brooklyn's Joe Johnson. Kobe is making $25 million this season and was 5-for-16 for 18 points. Kobe recently said he's about the 200th-best player in the NBA. That might be generous as Bryant is shooting just .321 from the field and .211 from long range -- yet he keeps firing at will. Johnson, by the way, makes $24.9 million this season. Just FYI: LeBron James is No. 3 at $23 million.
Metta World Peace made his season debut for the Lakers and the team outscored Brooklyn by 12 with him on the court. With Friday's win, the Lakers avoided starting 0-5 for the second consecutive season. L.A. had not started 0-5 since 1957-58 before last season. It was the first time the Lakers held an opponent under 100 points. They entered the game giving up a league-high 116.8 opponent points per game.
Maybe the fact that Kobe is playing at one of his most-liked arenas will snap him out of his slump -- and this could be his final time at the Garden if Bryant retires as most expect especially the way he's playing; some, though have speculated that Kobe might go play for Phil Jackson's Knicks next season if the Lakers don't want him back. In early February 2009, Bryant had a then-Garden record 61 points. The previous mark at the current building was Bernard King's 60 on Christmas Day 1984. The previous opponent record was Michael Jordan's memorable 55-point game there. Alas, Bryant's mark was broken in January 2014 when Carmelo Anthony had 62.
Kobe was asked after Friday's game about the possibility of ever playing for anyone else and said: "I've said it so many times. I'm here, I'm a Laker for life."
The Lakers are 1-4 against the spread on NBA odds and 3-2 'over/under.'
Knicks Trying For First Home Win
New York (2-4) lost a third straight on Friday, 99-92 at home to Milwaukee -- it was the also the Knicks' third game in a row scoring less than triple digits. Carmelo led the Knicks with 17 points but was only 6-for-16 from the field. He has been way off most of this season, hitting only .366 from the field. Rookie Kristaps Porzingis, the No. 4 overall pick, has showed some very good signs of being a great player in a few years this season and had 14 points and 13 rebounds in the loss.
But the Knicks' starting backcourt of Jose Calderon and Sasha Vujacic played nearly 43 combined minutes and combined for two points. It has to be the worst backcourt in the NBA. Help might be on the way. Free-agent addition Arron Afflalo hasn't played yet this season due to a hamstring injury but might debut Sunday. Afflalo re-strained his hamstring in the final game of preseason, following the original injury on the second day of training camp.
The Knicks have lost all three of their home games this season (Atlanta, San Antonio, Milwaukee). They hadn't started 0-3 at home since 2006-07. New York is 3-3 ATS on NBA picks and 3-3 O/U.
The teams were supposed to play in a nationally televised game (ESPN) on Super Bowl Sunday afternoon but they were both so bad that the game got bumped. The Knicks won 92-80, starting L.A. on a seven-game skid. Anthony had 31 points. Kobe had been ruled out for the season by then. It was Knicks coach Derek Fisher's first time coaching against the team he helped win five championships with as a player. On March 12 at Staples Center, the Knicks won 101-94 in Fisher's return to L.A. That was the Knicks' first win at the Lakers since 2007. Anthony was out for the season by that game.
NBA Free Picks: Knicks & 'OVER.' The Lakers are 0-6 ATS dating to last season after a win. New York is 6-0 ATS in its past six after an ATS loss. The home team is 7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings. The 'over' is 7-1 in L.A.'s past eight after a win. It is 4-1 in New York's past five after an ATS loss.