Lakers go into Madison Square Garden to face the Knicks

The Lakers are going against the hottest team in the league.

In one of the bigger upsets of the season, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated their hated rivals, the Boston Celtics, in Boston, Mass. Austin Reaves led the team with 32 points. By the way, this was without LeBron James and Anthony Davis. And then they would lose Jarred Vanderbilt in the second half.

There’s a chance the Lakers might have to go without all three players for the next game. LeBron and Davis are questionable while Vanderbilt will be out for the foreseeable future due to that foot injury. It’s really too bad because Vando was hitting his stride and was providing the energy the Lakers lacked in most games. And now he won’t be there.

It’s just perfect timing as the Lakers go into the famous Garden in New York. I don’t think anyone has really said this in almost an eternity but the New York Knicks are the hottest team in the league.

The Knicks are on a 9-game winning streak and have risen to third in the Eastern Conference with a 32-17 record. During this run, newly-minted all-star Jalen Brunson has been red hot. In the last 9 games, he’s averaged 32.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 6.3 assists while shooting .525 from the field. It’s been really cool to see the ascension of Brunson, who has become the man in the Big Apple and giving the Knicks a real shot at the championship in 20+ years.

They can also attribute the Knicks being on fire with the OG Anunoby deal. The Knicks are 15-2 since he started suiting up for New York (who gave up RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley in the trade). Anunoby gives the Knicks a very good 3-and-D player and can be counted on to terrorize the perimeter.

With Mitchell Robinson out for the season, the Knicks have relied on Isaiah Hartenstein in the middle. Like Robinson, Hartenstein is also capable of blocking shots inside while getting all the boards. Old friend Josh Hart might be the heart (heh heh) of the team. He’ll do whatever it takes to win and he has come up with big plays for these Knicks over the season. Donte DiVincenzo gives them another perimeter option while Miles McBride has come on late off the bench.

It’s too bad that another old friend, Julius Randle, won’t be available because of a dislocated shoulder. And Quentin Grimes won’t be playing, either.

But it does show that the Knicks are an extremely talented and deep team. And as mentioned, with Jalen Brunson leading them, they look like a legit contender this season.

The Lakers did face the Knicks on Dec. 18 and came up short against them in Los Angeles. A late third quarter run by the Knicks put them up by double digits and the Lakers couldn’t overcome that deficit despite Anthony Davis having 32 and 14 and LeBron James having a trip-dub (25-11-11).

But as always, it’s about the Lakers’ energy, especially coming out of the halftime break. What we saw against Boston was wonderful as they had beautiful ball movement and some of the best defense they’ve played in a while. And this was without LeBron and Davis. Can they do it again against New York in a nationally televised game?

They can. But will they? The Lakers are very hot and cold this season as we know and they can’t afford to act cool against the hottest team in the league. Which team will we see at MSG? Well, we’re all hoping it’s the team that showed up in Boston. After what we saw on Thursday night, it won’t be all that shocking if they beat the Knicks in New York.

That’s what makes the Lakers all the frustrating this season.