Czar’s Midseason Review

WEB-Midseason Review-Disappointments-12FEB2013

Gameday Dish: Lakers vs. Knicks

Copyright 2012 NBAE - Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers come to Madison Square Garden tonight for their only Manhattan visit this season.

While the Knicks are unexpectedly soaring, the Lakers are surprisingly sputtering.

A lot of colorful plot lines are swirling around this evening’s 48, but none bigger than the turmoil surrounding the 9-13 Lakers’ shocking start and accompanying sniping.

Coming in a close second is Mike D’Antoni’s return to the Garden, where he coached the Knicks from 2008 until March 14th, 2012 when he resigned after going 18-24 and clashing with Carmelo Anthony.

The embattled Laker coach’s guys suffered their worst loss of this early season on Tuesday night in Cleveland, 100-94, bringing LA to 4-8 since D’Antoni took over the reigns.

This third consecutive loss was especially surprising given that Kobe Bryant scored a season-high 42 points, and Dwight Howard corralled a season-high tying 20 boards to go with 19 points.

Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
However, for the past five games the Lake Show has been without PF Pau Gasol due to tendinitis in his knees.

Superstar PG Steve Nash and his back-up Steve Blake are also injured and out.

The 16-5 host Knicks have the best record in the Eastern Conference and are the only team in the league still undefeated at home.

New York last played on Tuesday night in Brooklyn, where they bested their outer-borough brethren 100-97.

Melo scored a season-high 45 points, and 39-year old 19th-year PG Jason Kidd hit a key tiebreaking 3-pointer with 24 seconds left.

The Knicks have gone 8-2 in their last 10 games and are scoring 102.6 ppg, 5th best in the league. They lead the NBA in 3-point attempts, averaging 29.4 per game.

Tune in to TNT tonight at 8:00 PM ET to watch two of the NBA’s most storied franchises do battle in the Mecca of basketball.

Fratello’s Fantasy Pick: Antawn Jamison

Copyright 2012 NBAE - Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty ImagesThe Los Angeles Lakers have captured the lion’s share of NBA headlines so far this season. They added Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. They fired Mike Brown and hired Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson. And their record so far is a pedestrian 8-9, resulting in a steady flow of bickering and general uncertainty surrounding the team and fanbase.

This would be a difficult and daunting environment for most newcomers, but not for Antawn Jamison. The 15-year veteran has been around the league, and he’s seen it all. He knows how to adapt to and grind through less than desirable circumstances while being the consummate professional teammate.

The former Tarheel signed with the talent-heavy Lakers for the veteran’s minimum in the off-season hoping to win his first championship ring after years of toiling for average to below average squads.

The 6’9” combo forward boasted career averages of 19.5 ppg and 7.9 rpg coming into the 2012-2013 season. Having been around the block and then some, Jamison understood that joining LA meant a diminished role off the bench. In the first 12 games of the schedule, he scored just 45 points total. But with a recent ringing endorsement from coach D’Antoni and a thin Laker bench, Jamison has averaged 28.2 mpg, 16.2 ppg and 8.6 rpg over the last five contests.

Jamison has been given the green light to take threes, and he can make them. In a win against Denver on November 30th, Jamison exploded for 33 points and 12 boards, hitting 5 of 10 from behind the arc.

With a center like Howard, Jamison could be the perfect 4-man to spell Pau Gasol and give the team a different look with his ability to sink 3-point shots. While the heavy Hollywood spotlights of adulation and scrutiny fall on Kobe, Dwight, Pau and the injured Nash, look for ‘Tawn to keep filling up the box score.

From the Booth

Mike Fratello and Ian Eagle break down the Nets’ loss to the Lakers.

Czar’s Season Preview