The Los Angeles Lakers couldn’t overcome Kobe Bryant’s suspension in their first meeting with the New York Knicks. They also failed to respond in their last game when the star guard did not score down the stretch.
Losers of three straight overall, Bryant and the Lakers look to avenge a loss to the Knicks when the teams conclude their season series Tuesday.
New York (22-29) beat Los Angeles (30-22) 99-94 on Jan. 30, with Bryant serving a one-game suspension for hitting San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili in the face two days earlier.
It was the Lakers’ season-high third straight loss at the time, and they have now matched that skid after falling 99-90 to Cleveland on Sunday to conclude a 3-5 road trip.
Bryant had 36 points to lead the Lakers against the Cavaliers, but didn’t score in the closing 3:39 and his teammates failed to compensate.
“According to Kobe, no one else wanted to step up in that sequence,” said Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson, whose team didn’t have another player score more than 12 points. “That was something we were looking for: somebody else to try and get going.”
In 10 games since coming back from a knee injury, Odom is averaging 14.9 points but is shooting just 39 percent from the field. Los Angeles is 3-7 in that stretch.
Jackson said there is no specific timetable for Odom’s play to improve.
“We’ll see whether it’s before the All-Star break or not,” Jackson said. “That’s not the critical thing. It’s just about finding it, and when it happens just going with the flow.”
The Lakers are trying to avoid losing four in a row for the first time since Feb. 1-7, 2006.
“We have to take what it is,” Jackson said of the unsuccessful road trip, “just re-establish ourselves, go back home and try and build some momentum again. That’s all the NBA is, it’s a roller coaster ride between wins and losses and you just have to keep your spirits up and go back and work hard.”
Bryant is averaging 34.0 points in his last eight games against the Knicks, including two 40-point efforts. The Lakers have won six of those eight meetings.
New York got guard Steve Francis back after he missed 18 games due to right knee tendinitis, but lost 104-102 in overtime at Utah on Saturday night.
Francis, who hadn’t played since Dec. 29, had 13 points and seven rebounds in just his 22nd appearance in the Knicks’ 51 games.
New York had won three of its previous four before Saturday’s contest.
“We competed, but we hurt ourselves,” said Knicks guard Jamal Crawford, who had a team-high 29 points but committed six turnovers. “We had 22 turnovers. They made some big plays. … We didn’t do the things that we were doing to get the lead.”
Eddy Curry had 27 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks in last month’s meeting with the Lakers. He is averaging 25.7 points in his last three games.