The Lakers arrival in New York may not have had the star attraction of LeBron James, but did provide a homecoming opportunity for former Knicks Carmelo Anthony and David Fizdale.
Anthony has had a career renaissance since leaving New York, or more to point when his time in Oklahoma City and a brief turn in Houston that followed and appeared to bring his career to an end. He has become a key contributor to the Lakers this season.
"He’s been terrific for us, really terrific, from a leadership standpoint, from a care factor standpoint," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. "He’s been all in in terms we have new players and our culture. He hasn’t only bought in but he’s made sure his teammates bought in to what we’re trying to accomplish. He’s focused on the defensive side of the ball — which is something he hasn’t been known for throughout his career. You can see how it’s a special opportunity for him. He’s giving it his all. Obviously, he has a lot left in the tank offensively with what he’s bringing to the table with his shooting percentage. He’s had a couple of mid-20-point games."
Fizdale was dismissed in-season by the Knicks with a 21-83 record over one full season and a part of a second. He returned home to Los Angeles, where he grew up, and then hooked on this season with the Lakers, filling the void left by Jason Kidd’s departure.
"Just knowledge and expertise," Vogel said of what Fizdale brought to his staff. "He’s a great guy. Obviously we competed against each other a lot when he was in Miami, the lead assistant down there and all those tough playoff battles that we had. So I’ve got a lot of respect for his knowledge and the job he did as a head coach obviously, without much of an opportunity [in New York], but in Memphis. He really knows his stuff and he brought all that to the table for us."
Absent Robinson, Gibson leave big hole
The Knicks were without their starting center, Mitchell Robinson, who remains in concussion protocol, and Taj Gibson, who missed his second straight game with a sore groin.
"There’s a whole series of things that he has to go through," Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He’s doing fine, he’s feeling a lot better but he’s got to follow the protocol. As long as there’s no setbacks [Friday is possible]. It’s a step by step thing. So they ratchet up the intensity of the workouts just to make sure everything’s good."