NBA

Russell's Lakers in New York to Face Porzingis' Knicks

The Lakers are one game better than the Phoenix Suns for the worst record in the Western Conference

On Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers are in New York and will take on the New York Knicks at the mecca of basketball, Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks have lost three of their last four games and are currently 1.5 games out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but the Lakers claim the second-worst record in the NBA at 5-23. Related, the Lakers last won a road game on Dec. 16 in Philadelphia.

To make matters worse, LA is currently on a tough stretch of road games after playing five of its last six games away from Staples Center, losing all five of those road games. Also, the Lakers face four of their next five games on the road, before stumbling into the All-Star Break.

@jordanclarksons is helping @swaggyp1 get ready for the 3-pt contest at NBA All-Star weekend.

A video posted by Los Angeles Lakers (@lakers) on Feb 5, 2017 at 11:05am PST

On the topic of the upcoming All-Star weekend, the Lakers are sending D'Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram to the Rising Stars challenge, which features the top first and second year players in the NBA. Also, Nick Young will take part in the three-point contest, which shouldn't be a shock to anyone watching "Swaggy P" dance on the court this season.

For qualified league leaders, Young ranks 12th in the NBA shooting 41.9 percent from beyond the three-point line and 10th overall in three-pointers made with 134. That means Young isn't simply impressing on percentages; he's also attempting his fair share of shots and continuing to hit a high percentage. Of the nine players ranking ahead of Young in three-pointers made, only All-Stars Stephen Curry (42.3 percent) shoots a better percentage than the 31-year-old.

Needless to say, Young has surprised a few folks with his long-range shooting. In Boston, the Lakers' starting shooting guard made five of his 10 attempts from beyond the three-point arc. While Young is lighting it up from the outside, point guard D'Angelo Russell continues to struggle from distance. After shooting 30.6 percent from distance in January, Russell is averaging 34.1 percent from three-point land for the season.

The second-year guard, however, has seemingly cracked bits of the point guard code. The 20-year-old former Ohio State Buckeye is averaging 19.0 points, 9.0 assists and 6.7 rebounds since returning from a knee and calf injury. The most impressive aspect of Russell's reformation is that he had even recorded a single nine-assist game prior to his injury. In his first two games back from injury, the former no. 2 overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft set back-to-back career-highs in assists.

One player that has thus far out-shined Russell from his draft class is Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis. When the Lakers hosted the Knicks in December, Porzingis scored 26 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and nearly recorded a triple-double with seven blocks on the night. On the season, Porzingis is averaging 18.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. In addition, the no. 4 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft is shooting an impressive 37.8 percent from three-point land.

To put those numbers in perspective, Carmelo Anthony shoots 35.6 percent from three, averages fewer rebounds and blocks than the second-year stud. Anthony still leads the Knicks with 22.9 points per game, but increasingly, the Knicks are becoming Porzingis' team.

The Lakers and Knicks tip-off at 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

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