Lakers 122, Knicks 115 (OT): Scenes from a harrowing start to a road trip.
Sure, I wrote that LeBron James would drop this one. Not one to give up prime-time exposure, King James has magically healed enough to make it onto the roster. Never underestimate the power of the ego.
New York stormed the gates like the Globetrotters tonight. The shots were whistling, the dimes were sparkling, and the team cohesion was magnificent. This sequence made me want to absolve them of many previous sins:
The Knicks won the first quarter 42-29, their first-highest frame of the season. They shot a pound 15 for 20 from the floor, 6 for 9 from deep. At halftime, the Knicks led 71-56. (Yes, 71.) New York leads the entire first half, by a whopping 21 points. Your Heroes had 19 quick break points in the first, compared to eight for the Lakers. Sustainable stuff? Not usually.
After the intermission, LA was better organized and employed a tighter defense. The Knicks’ shooting died and their engine faltered, LeBron faltered, and Malik Monk became a three-running machine (he beat the Knicks in Q3). The Lakers outscored New York 31-13 and took an 87-84 lead in the fourth.
Monk continued to sizzle, Anthony Davis is a beast, and LeBron did his usual stuff. New York missed the free throws. Burks now plays like he has mono. The Lakers’ lead increased to nine with just over two minutes remaining.
The much-maligned Julius Randle didn’t give up, however, working hard for the offensive boards and hitting two free throws to cut the score. Fournier delivered an angle dagger. Westbrook bricked two from the charity strip. RJ went coast-to-coast with a muscle jam, then punched another clutch hat-trick to tie the game with 8.7 seconds left.
And in case you doubt the grip of the young Canadian:
RJ Barrett is the most reliable Knick in critical times.
He’s 16 for 24 (66.7%) in 17 games in the clutch. More impressive: 7 for 11 (63.6%) in depth.
He needs to get the most touches when closing matches.
Randle needs to place it instead of taking the hard hits himself! pic.twitter.com/m93lPtVHXR
— Ersin Demir (@EDemirNBA) February 4, 2022
James missed a 26-footer to send the contest into overtime. Unfortunately, the Knicks left nothing in the tank for the bonus quarterback. Worst of all, I spotted David Fizdale sneaking around, playing Iago in Vogel’s Othello. A horrible image with which to end the night. Your final: 122-115.
Summary to come. Safe Travel Knickerbockers.