The Knicks let another close one get away.
LeBron (I love to play the Garden but, for some reason, never wanted to play for the home team) James had a triple-double and combined with Anthony Davis for 55 points as the Lakers outlasted the Knicks in overtime, 129-123 at Madison Square Garden last night in the first of a key four game homestand.
James had 28 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in his first game at MSG since 2020. The 38-year old moved past Mark Jackson and Steve Nash for fourth on the NBA’s all time assist list, while he is now just 89 points away from breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all time scoring record.
The tightly contested game featured 15 lead changes and 14 ties but the Lakers prevailed by outscoring the Knicks, 15-9 in the extra five minute session. It was the Knicks’ league leading 8th overtime and they are now 3-5 in those games.
“They kicked our ass in the last five minutes,” Jalen Brunson said after another overtime loss.
The Lakers shot 52% for the game and were 11 for 33 (33%) from three. The Knicks shot 45% but they were a brutal 7 for 34 (21%) from beyond the arc. The Knicks did not make a three point shot after the third quarter, going 0 for 5 in the fourth. Obi Toppin hit the Knicks last three of the game with 2:29 remaining in the third quarter.
Brunson led the Knicks with a game high 37 points. Julius Randle had 23 pts but was 6 for 19 from the floor, including 2 of 9 from three. R.J. Barrett struggled early, shooting 1 for 8. He made four of his last five shots and had 13 points but was on the bench for the final 6:51 of the fourth quarter and the entire five minute overtime. Immanuel Quickley had a strong game off the bench with 19 points and was part of the unit that was on the court for the end of the fourth quarter and overtime.
The Lakers had an 86-83 lead after three quarters, but they came out firing in the fourth quarter as they made their first eight shots to take a 107-100 lead with less than six minutes remaining.
An Isaiah Hartenstein dunk, off a beautiful feed from Quentin Grimes, cut the deficit to 110-108 with less than four minutes left.
After Davis missed, the Knicks had a possession where their infatuation with the three point shot was costly. In a span of 49 seconds, the Knicks grabbed three offensive rebounds and fired four missed shots from three point range, instead of trying to get to the hoop, or at least find a better shot.
LeBron’s three put the Lakers up 114-108 with 1:41 remaining but the Knicks scored six straight points, capped off by a Brunson floater, to tie the game with 24 seconds remaining.
Brunson, who did all he could, drew a charge on LeBron on the ensuing possession with 4.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The Knicks had the ball with a chance to win, but their final possession left you scratching your head.
For some strange reason, Brunson was inbounding the ball. The Knicks guard inbounded the ball to Randle who was near the sideline and he was double teamed and never got a good shot off as the game went to overtime.
“Julius got open. They double teamed the last second. Kind of a difficult area from there,” Brunson said. “It was tough, he [Randle] was aggressive. We got five extra minutes to do something about it.”
Brunson was having a fabulous game and was a big reason the game was tied, but Coach Tom Thibodeau elected to have Randle take the final shot, even though Brunson was the best option.
“LeBron was on Jalen and Davis was on Julius,” Thibodeau said. “Depending on what they’re [the Lakers] are doing, it could go either way so there was options on that play.” On the video, Brunson appeared to be wide open after the inbounds pass, but Randle never passed the ball back.
With the score tied at 118 in overtime, the Lakers went on a 7-0 run that basically put the game away. Dennis Schroder hit a three, followed by a Davis dunk and Russell Westbrook’s pull up to make it 125-118.
Brunson converted a three point play to make it a four point game, but LeBron’s lay up and two free throws from Schroder capped off another bitter loss for the Knicks.
The Lakers got out to a 15-5 lead in the first quarter, but the Knicks chipped back and Brunson’s buzzer beating three cut the lead to 29-24 after one quarter.
Quickley scored ten points in the second quarter and gave the Knicks a 49-43 lead with a little over three minutes remaining. The Knicks were up 53-49 but Schroder hit a half court shot at the buzzer to make it a one point lead at halftime. That shot proved to be huge.
The Knicks will play the second game of the homestand against Miami on Wednesday night, followed by games against the Clippers and Sixers in what is a very difficult portion of their schedule.