Knicks vs Lakers big on History, small on current significance

Want to know just how far the Los Angeles Lakers vs. New York Knicks rivalry has fallen?

Consider that when Knicks vs. Lakers tickets on Barry’s for Sunday’s Broadway matinee average a price of $167 and get-in of $45, the loudest cheers of the day could be reserved for whomever out of the two team’s longtime A-list of fans is still brave, bold and captivated enough to turn out at Madison Square Garden.

Yes, the stench has grown that bad, with both teams coming in a cumulative 22-72 over roughly the first half of the season. And most of that putridness came when Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony were still making nightly appearances in their teams’ respective lineups.

As bad as the Lakers (13-34) have been, at least they might now have some closure in knowing just what they can expect over the remainder of the season. In other words, the All-Star Bryant won’t be walking through that door anytime soon.

The 19-year-veteran and surefire Hall of Famer announced last week he was shutting it down for the year season with a torn right rotator cuff and the Lakers promptly dropped six straight before knocking off Chicago 123-118 in double-overtime Thursday night.

In Bryant’s absence, veteran forward Jordan Hill has picked up much of the slack, posting three double-doubles including going for 26 points and 12 rebounds against the Bulls. Shot-happy Nick Young has also contributed, averaging 18 points over his last four games, but it’s taken him almost just as many jacks to do it.

Still, if the Lakers are expecting to get any sympathy at all from former boss Phil Jackson and his equally dreadful Knicks, they’ve come to the wrong arena.

In being blown out 103-82 by the Indiana Pacers Thursday night, the Knicks (9-38) looked every bit like the team that got off to the franchise’s poorest start in history and at one point dropped 16 in a row. Going into Indiana, the Knickerbockers appeared to be picking up a bit of steam, winning four of five and at one point three in a row.

Then came Thursday night and the Pacers. Truth is, from night to night rookie coach Derek Fisher doesn’t seem to know what he can expect from star forward Carmelo Anthony, or, more to the point, even if he’ll be available to him.

Anthony as sat out 11 games this season with an assortment of injuries and for only the fifth time in his 12-year career is averaging 36.2 minutes or less a night.

But come Sunday, it’ll still be the Lakers vs. Knicks; it’ll still be two of the league’s most storied franchises hooking up again face to face. And that almost certainly assures at some point and at some time The Garden will be rocking.