W2W4: Knicks at Lakers

Here are a few things to keep an eye on during tonight's Knicks-Lakers game:

Playoff primer: The Lakers game kicks off a pivotal five-game West Coast trip for New York. And you can make an argument that the Knicks need to win all five to keep their playoff hopes alive.

It doesn't get any easier for New York towards the end of the season. Nine of the Knicks' final 10 games are against teams that are over .500. Eight of those final 10 are against teams over .500. So they'd be wise to make up ground with the eighth-place Hawks over the next two games.

A Knicks win Tuesday would move them to within two games of Atlanta with 11 games to go.

The Hawks, who have lost three in a row, play the Timberwolves in Minnesota on Wednesday.

Melo loves L.A.: The Lakers are one of the few teams expected to make a strong play for Carmelo Anthony in free agency this summer. So Tuesday's game could be -- could be -- Anthony's last game as a Staples Center visitor.

Anthony has given the Lakers fits in recent games. He had 35 against the Lakers on Jan. 26 and he's had at least 30 points in his last three games against Los Angeles.

Phil in the house? New Knicks president Phil Jackson is with the team in Los Angeles. It's unclear if Jackson will attend tonight's game. It will be interesting to see if Jackson addresses the players or simply assesses things from afar.

Amar'e on fire: The Knicks are coming off an embarrassing home loss to the Cavs. Overall, they've won eight of nine. One of the driving forces behind their success has been the play of Amar'e Stoudemire.

Stoudemire has averaged 17.8 points per game in his last eight games [all starts]. He'd averaged 10.0 points per game in his previous 45. Stoudemire could have an easy night against Los Angeles. Over their past five games, the Lakers have given up 117.2 points per game on 49.2 percent shooting.