Preview: Lakers vs. New York Knicks

The Lakers host the New York Knicks on Thursday night

The Lakers (17-46) ended a five-game losing streak on Tuesday with a win over the Detroit Pistons (23-41). On Thursday night, they'll host the worst team in the NBA at Staples Center, the 12-51 New York Knicks.

The Knicks defeated the Lakers in early February, 92-80, but that was before Carmelo Anthony underwent season-ending knee surgery.

Derek Fisher will have the chance to coach against his former team, in the building where he helped win five titles, but he'll do so without Jose Calderon (Achilles'), Quincy Acy (personal reasons) and Anthony, while Tim Hardaway Jr. is questionable with a back issue.

Instead, Fisher is relying on players like Alexey Shved, Langston Galloway and Lou Amundson.

The Lakers will play without Nick Young (knee), while Ronnie Price (elbow), Kobe Bryant (shoulder), Julius Randle (knee) and Steve Nash (back) are all done for the season.

Key matchup

Andrea Bargnani has played some of his best basketball in years over the past month. The Italian forward/center has averaged 19.5 points over the past four games while shooting 51.6% from the field.

Injuries have plagued Bargnani through his Knicks tenure, but this late stretch has given him a chance to show his skills.

The Lakers will probably start Tarik Black on Bargnani, with Jordan Hill, Ed Davis, Carlos Boozer and Robert Sacre all available at the power positions.

Hill has been solid through six games in March, averaging 12.3 points and 7.7 rebounds a game, though he's shooting just 43.8% from the field.

X-factor

Shved scored 21 points with 10 rebounds and seven assists on Tuesday in a loss to the Utah Jazz.  At 6 feet 6, the third-year guard has played in nine games with the Houston Rockets, 17 with the Philadelphia 76ers and just nine with the Knicks this season.

With the Knicks he's averaging 9.9 points a game while shooting 40.0% from the field and 29.8% from three-point range. While he's not much of an outside threat, Shved is also getting the chance to show that he's a better players than his numbers would suggest.

Meanwhile, Lakers rookie guard Jordan Clarkson has averaged a solid 15.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists a game in March. He's hitting 44.8% of his shots, though just 21.7% from behind the arc.

The Lakers also recently signed Clarkson's Missouri backcourt mate, Jabari Brown, to a 10-day contract. He could get his first regular-season minutes against New York.

Outlook

The Knicks are not a good basketball team.

The Lakers have been competitive for the past month while struggling to close out games in the final minutes. They should be able to handle the Knicks on Thursday night.

Email Eric Pincus at Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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