NY Knicks: Critical flaw on offense exposed by Lakers

RJ Barrett, New York Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
RJ Barrett, New York Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /
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NY Knicks
Julius Randle, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, NY Knicks. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Lakers took away the NY Knicks’ shooting

By taking away the NY Knicks’ perimeter shooting, the Lakers took away the easy baskets. Los Angeles essentially forced the Knicks to face their demons at the rim.

Again, I don’t want to make this sound like the Knicks were completely stonewalled. This was a close game throughout, but we haven’t exactly seen RJ Barrett shoot 2 of 13 or Reggie Bullock shoot 2 of 9, especially recently.

The bread and butter of Julius Randle’s All-NBA level this season has been getting him the ball in high-post. Get him the ball either at the elbow or along the baseline, and let him go to work.

He will either shimmy his defender out of his shoes and hit his patented mid-range jump shot, or the defense will bring the double team.

Typically, it’s a pass that has now become routine, where Randle dishes it to the corner or cross-court to a shooter, who either has a good look or quickly passes to a teammate for a better look. Randle racks up the assists and the hockey assists. It’s been like clockwork, to the point where we essentially welcome the double team.

The Lakers decided to take it a step farther. They swarmed the perimeter to make sure the Knicks weren’t getting those looks out of the Randle double team. The reason they can do this without getting burned in the paint?

New York doesn’t have anyone that will burn you in the paint. The Lakers were perfectly fine letting just a single player, whether it was Andre Drummond or Anthony Davis be the last guy to have to rotate into the paint. They’re not worried about Noel or Gibson.

The Lakers’ perimeter defenders like Wes Matthews were fighting through screens to make sure New York got no easy jump shots.

When the Knicks did take those threes, they were frequently more contested than they would have liked. RJ Barrett and Reggie Bullock have been cash money on catch-&-shoot threes this season but are not off-the-dribble scorers. The Lakers forced them to be off-the-dribble scorers.

It left avenues for the NY Knicks to potentially attack the rim 1-on-1 with little help defense waiting – something the Lakers would happily allow. They trusted their perimeter defenders to handle drives 1-on-1.

It worked. The Knicks shot just over 34% from 3.

They shot just 45.5% at the rim in this game which was their 3rd worst performance at the rim this season, and one that ranked in the 3rd percentile of any game by any NBA team this season.

So how can New York adjust going forward?