• The Lakers (16-29) host the Knicks (21-25) on Sunday for a rare Staples Center matinee.

    Los Angeles will once again get a painful reminder that they skipped Kristaps Porzingis in the 2015 NBA Draft, opting instead to draft D’Angelo Russell who is no longer with the franchise. Porzingis, dubbed the Unicorn because of his unique skill-set, is a 7-foot-3 player who can handle the ball, has tremendous shooting range and is a prolific shot blocker. The last time he visited Staples Center he showed the full array of his talents, accumulating 26 points, 12 rebounds and 7 blocked shots — each one a dagger to the hearts of Laker fans.

    With Carmelo Anthony shipped to Oklahoma City, Porzingis is now the focus of the Knicks’ offense and is having a breakout year, averaging 23.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.8 steals, 2.4 blocks and 1.8 3-pointers a game. The Lakers may have a difficult time matching up with him as he is far too athletic for Brook Lopez, the Lakers’ struggling center, and much too long for Julius Randle, their best big-man defender on the year and current starting center.

    The starting rosters and subsequent rotations will be an interesting chess game during this matchup. In the Knicks’ most recent game, a hard-fought 117-115 win against the Utah Jazz,  they started Enes Kanter at center and Porzingis at power forward, while the Lakers started Kyle Kuzma at power forward and Randle at center in their last win. The Lakers would be extremely under-sized if the two teams both maintained the same roster configuration.

    Los Angeles is coming off a particularly gutsy win against the Indina Pacers in which they overcame the deficit of three starters to earn a 99-86 win. The Lakers were buttressed by a transcendent performance from reserve guard Jordan Clarkson who tallied 33 points, seven rebounds and seven assists while converting 14-of-19 shots from the field. On a night where they needed, and received production from almost everyone on their roster, Larry Nance Jr.’s effort stood out as he added 10 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks while making all five of his field goal attempts.

    The Lakers will be short-handed again on Sunday as they will once again be without starting point guard Lonzo Ball. Friday’s victory was the first time the Lakers were able to win without him this season, going 0-for-8 in their previous attempts. They will need another heroic effort from their entire roster if they are to overcome Porzingis and the Knicks on Sunday.

    Key Stats

    • The Lakers allow 110.0 points per game (27th) compared to 105.3 points per game (12th) for the Knicks.
    • After their last masterful defensive performance, the Lakers defensive rating improved to 104.6 (8th) vs. 105.7 (15th) for New York. One telling statistic for the Lakers is that in their 16 wins their defensive rating is 96.0, highest for any team during victories. The Knicks have a defensive rating of 101.1 (23rd) in their wins.
    • Los Angeles commits 16.7 turnovers a game (29th) and is consequently tied for allowing the most points per game off their turnovers at 19.6 points per game. New York is slightly better, committing 15.4 turnovers per game (22nd) and allowing 18.0 points per game off of turnovers (25th).
    • The Lakers are by far the worst free throw shooting team in the league, converting a dismal 68.8 percent of their shots from the line compared to the Knicks who shoot 79.5 percent from the free throw line (6th). In the Lakers’ last victory, they had the ignominy of shooting the worst percentage of any team since the 1963-64 season in a win, going 2-of-14 (14.3 percent) in their otherwise impressive triumph. Their free shooting is so outrageously bad that it has Lakers’ coach Luke Walton considering meditation to remedy their woes.
    • Los Angeles shoots 33.0 percent from 3-point range (30th) compared to the Knicks who make 36.6 percent of their 3-point attempts (13th).

    Projected Starting Rosters


    Tyler Ennis (PG)

    Josh Hart (SG)

    Brandon Ingram (SF)

    Julius Randle (PF)

    Brook Lopez (C)


    Jarrett Jack (PG)

    Courtney Lee (SG)

    Tim Hardaway Jr. (SF)

    Kristaps Porzingis (PF)

    Enes Kanter (C)

    Injury Report


    Lonzo Ball (knee) – OUT

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Achilles) – GAME-TIME DECISION

    Brandon Ingram (ankle) – GAME-TIME DECISION


    No Injured Players

    Broadcast Information

    Time: 12:30 PM PST, 3:30 PM EST

    Television: SPECSN/SPECD, MSG, TSN4/5

    Radio: 710 AM ESPN / 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES

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