By Eric Pincus
7:18 AM PST, January 26, 2014
After winning two consecutive games, the Lakers (16-28) have lost two in a row. They finish their seven-game road trip in New York on Sunday, visiting Madison Square Garden to play the Knicks (16-27).
New York is coming off an impressive win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday, when Carmelo Anthony set a franchise and Madison Square Garden record with 62 points.
The Knicks have struggled for consistency this season, dealing with injuries and ragged play. Before its win Friday, New York had lost five in a row.
Meanwhile, the Lakers have managed to cut down their turnovers of late, but have had little to offer on defense.
Once again, the Lakers will play without Kobe Bryant (knee), Steve Nash (back), Steve Blake (elbow), Jordan Farmar (hamstring) and Xavier Henry (knee).
The Knicks will be without big men Amar'e Stoudemire (ankle), Andrea Bargnani (wrist) and Kenyon Martin (ankle). Forward Metta World Peace has missed time recently with a knee issue but could play Sunday.
Anthony is still one of the league's top scorers, averaging 27 points a night while shooting 44.7% from the field and 42% from three point range.
In the win over the Bobcats, Anthony shot 23 of 35 (65.7%) from the field, with 6 of 11 from three-point range, and was 10 of 10 from the free-throw line. He also collected 13 rebounds and, while he didn't dish a single assist, he didn't turn the ball over.
The Lakers will probably turn to Wesley Johnson to try to cover Anthony. Rookie Ryan Kelly is likely to be over-matched.
Nick Young might get a chance as well, but the 6-foot-8, 240-pound Anthony is a lot for any team to handle.
Offensively, the Lakers rely on Young for points. Coming off the bench, he's leading the team at 17.1 points a game.
The Lakers' defense has been lacking, somewhat understandable given the injuries. The team's offense has improved with the addition of point guard Kendall Marshall.
Marshall is averaging 10.1 points and 9.6 assists a game while shooting 44.4% from the field and a team-high 48.5% from three-point range.
In his 12 starts with the Lakers, Marshall is averaging 11.9 assists, among the best in the league during that stretch.
New York's Raymond Felton hasn't had his best season, averaging 10.7 points and 5.5 assists while shooting only 39.5% from the field and 28.9% from the arc.
The Lakers need to find their defensive footing.
The Knicks are depleted by injuries, like the Lakers, but as Anthony showed Friday, he can carry the team offensively.
At the end of a long road trip, the Lakers might be weary but they have the potential to close on a positive note if they can get some stops in New York.
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