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SLEEPWALKING TO VICTORY LOS ANGELES - Another fruitless night in what promises to be a wasted season can be summed up like this for the New York Knicks: even getting to the arena proved to be a daunting task.

Apparently oblivious to Los Angeles' well-deserved reputation for rush-hour traffic, the bus carrying most of the Knicks players and coaches didn't leave their Santa Monica hotel until just after 5 p.m.

They arrived, predictably, less than an hour before Tuesday's 7:30 p.m. tip-off, a bad omen preceding a 100-90 loss to the Lakers in a game that was never in doubt during the second half.

If opening the season with 17 of their first 21 games at home means the Lakers have the league's cushiest early schedule, then Tuesday was certainly the start of an especially breezy three-game stretch. Up next after the Knicks (3-11) is a visit to in-fighting Golden State (5-8) on Saturday followed by a home game the next night against New Jersey (0-14).

While the Knicks lost to Boston by only two points in overtime in their previous game, any success they have this season is more an unexpected bonus than a primary goal. They're just playing out the string with a band of youngsters and role players until the Summer of LeBron, when they can finally use their salary cap space to retool their roster.

It was a testament to the Knicks' ineptitude that the Lakers still led by 10 at halftime despite a tepid performance that suggested undersized New York did not have their full attention.

Although Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol stood at least four inches taller than the men who guarded them, the Lakers often seemed content to run with the Knicks and fire up jumpers rather than feeding their two 7-footers in the post. In one of the rare instances when the Lakers looked inside to Gasol, Ron Artest's second-quarter entry pass bounced off the big man's back because he'd already turned toward the basket expecting to have to vie for a rebound.

Give the Lakers credit for their work on the glass, however, because their 60-36 advantage was the biggest reason they maintained a lead before finally blowing it open. The Lakers tightened up defensively enough to hold the Knicks scoreless for more than six minutes in the third quarter, reeling off 15 straight points to open a 74-52 lead.

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 34 points on 14-for-20 shooting, a typically solid performance even if it wasn't quite as spectacular as the 61 he dropped on the Knicks at Madison Square Garden last February. The other four starters were also in double figures. Gasol had 16 rebounds.

The Lakers had to reinsert their starters for the final five minutes of the fourth quarter after the lead dwindled with the second unit on the floor. The bench combined for just nine points on 4-for-22 shooting (including Lamar Odom going 2 for 8 and Jordan Farmar 1 for 7).

Reach Jeff Eisenberg at 951-368-9357 or

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 27, 2009


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