Lakers vs. Knicks preview: L.A. looks to get act together in Big Apple

Chris Trotman

Coach Mike D'Antoni and the Los Angeles Lakers visit Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks in a game where the past is sure to come up. The outcome also goes a long way in writing D'Antoni's future.

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks to a win against the Denver Nuggets with 34 points on Sunday against his former team. He dropped 45 in his home borough of Brooklyn to beat the Nets on Tuesday.

The NBA's second-leading scorer will be spoon-fed motivation for the third time in three games.

Thursday night, Anthony will notice former Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni riling up the struggling Los Angeles Lakers as they visit Madison Square Garden in D'Antoni's first return trip to New York.

His former assistant coach, Mike Woodson, has since shed the interim tag and has the Knicks atop the Eastern Conference with a 16-5 record. Meanwhile, D'Antoni's Lakers have floundered with more talent than he had in New York.

The Lakers (9-13) are 4-8 after D'Antoni took over for Mike Brown, and the storyline of a team ill fit to play the up-tempo style D'Antoni developed in Phoenix mirrors his time in New York. Instead of Anthony struggling to fit in, it's now Pau Gasol. And instead of Jeremy Lin building his own career off D'Antoni's offense, the team is only hoping Steve Nash -- who arguably helped make D'Antoni's own career -- returns in the near future to put it all together.

The Knicks' offense has only excelled under Woodson. While the Lakers' age has been one proposed reason as to why they can't score, New York's team with four utilized players aged at 38 or older has one of the most efficient offenses in the NBA.

New York is No. 2 in the league as far as points per 100 possessions.

Los Angeles is on a three-game skid where the defense has allowed 110 points per game, and that's bad news against a New York team that is fifth in the NBA by scoring 102.5 points per game -- all despite being the seventh slowest-paced team in the NBA. The scoring is helped by Anthony, who is second in the NBA at 27.7 points per game and just behind the Laker's Kobe Bryant, who is averaging 29.2 a night.

Meanwhile, the defensive D'Antoni when it comes to defense has a team ranked No. 17 at 104.9 points allowed per 100 possessions, not far off New York's No. 15-ranked 104.6 points given up per 100 possessions, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

D'Antoni's return, and the result in the win-loss column, will go a way in answering whether the pressure cooker he has entered in Los Angeles is as hot as the one he left when he resigned as the Knicks head coach last March.

Time: 8 p.m. ET

TV: TNT

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