|Melo and Kobe face off Thursday night. (Getty Images)|
Welcome to the 4-Point Play. Every Thursday, we'll give you a look at what's happening in the league, provide some odds and ends, the best photos and our Tweet of the Week. This week, our discussion begins with the Lakers' pressure defense.
The Lakers are up against the wall on Thursday night. At 9-13, the Lakers are a hot mess on both sides of the ball, and face the white-hot Knicks in Madison Square Garden. The Lakers just got handled completely by the Cleveland Cavaliers. How will they handle the best team in the Eastern Conference?
What's the Lakers' biggest problem? Where to start. But the biggest and most obvious one is this: Any team that runs fast with the ball gets to score, whenever they want, however they want.
The Lakers are 18th in transition points allowed per possession according to Synergy Sports, and are tied for worst in the league in opponent fast break points via NBA.com.
And those numbers don't really cover the horror of their defensive possessions. They give up a huge number of fast-break open layups, but maybe worse is their defense of the transition 3. Layups are obviously higher percentage, but the Lakers are getting crushed by transition threes. And a lot of it comes down to effort.
Watch three Lakers just kind of say "Cool jumper, bro" when C.J. Miles brings the ball up. Not only does no one stop the ball, the Lakers just kind of hang out.
Cool jumper, bro.
Meanwhile, the Knicks are an optimal opponent for the Lakers in one regard. They play slow. Mollasses slow. But they're still sixth in fast-break points and third in transition points per possession. Basically, when they do run, they score, in bunches.
The Knicks are surprisingly bad at the rim and in the paint, with almost all their offense coming from mid-range and on the perimeter. They're shooting the lights out, and that gap created by their 3-point shooting buries their opponents with offensive firepower.
So the biggest concern for the Lakers is those transition 3s and the Knicks' ability to hit them. Watch how badly this could go down.
If the Lakers don't keep track of the Knicks coming up the floor in transition, it's going to be another night of horror for this nightmare of a season the Lakers have stumbled into.
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“It's mostly because various players play different roles and have different playing time in every game. The team isn't crystallized. It doesn't have everyone knowing his role. Nobody's really sure how many minutes he'll spend on the court, whether he even gets a shot.” -- Marcin Gortat, throwing Alvin Gentry under the bus to a Polish publication following the Suns losing to the Clippers on Saturday, and why players are struggling.
MEME(S) OF THE WEEK
Hey Knicks fans, how did you feel about that win over the Heat?