The New York Knicks‘ upcoming daunting West Coast trip could be softened by the latest injury of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.
James, who was scorching hot in January, averaging 30.3 points on 51.6 percent shooting, could be out a few more games due to irritation in his left knee.
Lakers star LeBron James is expected to miss Wednesday’s game vs. Portland, and could be out a few more games due to irritation in left knee, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Sides want to be cautious and allow James to return once irritation subsides.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 1, 2022
The Knicks are scheduled to visit the Lakers on a primetime ESPN game this coming Saturday.
In November, the Knicks beat the Lakers, 106-100, with James sitting out due to a one-game suspension for his role in bloodying Isaiah Stewart’s face in their previous visit to Detroit. Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis combined for 51 points, but it was not enough to counter the Knicks’ well-balanced attack that had six players in double figures.
After Los Angeles, the Knicks will visit the slumping Utah Jazz, who lost key player Joe Ingles to a season-ending ACL injury and are still without Donovan Mitchell (concussion protocol) and Rudy Gobert (calf). Mitchell and Gobert have missed seven and four straight games, respectively.
The Knicks remain within striking distance of the play-in teams Atlanta Hawks (24-26) and Boston Celtics (27-25) after their 20-point blowout of the lowly Sacramento Kings Monday night at home.
The much-needed win that ended a three-game slide pushed them back to 11th in the Eastern Conference with a 24-27 record.
“We’re in the hunt,” Julius Randle said following their 116-96 win over the Kings. “We’re just still trying to find it, trying to build ahead and hit our strides.”
A Wednesday matchup against the surprising Memphis Grizzlies will serve as another tough test for the Knicks, who have been hounded by inconsistency this season.
Ja Morant and the Grizzlies have jumped to third in the Western Conference overtaking the depleted Jazz. But they are coming off a 122-199 overtime loss in Philadelphia last Monday night.
Per Tankathon, the Knicks have the second-toughest schedule remaining, with 26 of their last 31 games are against playoff teams and teams vying for a play-in spot. But Randle, who played well Monday night, delivering 17 points on 50 percent from the field with nine boards and four assists, remains hopeful the Knicks could still pull through in the end.
“Hopefully, this works out toward the end of the year. All the things that we’ve been through this year, the ups and downs, by the end of the year, we’re clicking on all cylinders. So, hopefully, that’s where we’re headed,” Randle added.
But there’s a big question mark if this current Knicks team will be able to sort it out together in the end.
The next four games before the Feb. 10 trade deadline will be critical for the Knicks, who have reportedly made some of their veterans available.
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