December 13, 2017, 4:35 pm
Lonzo Ball whipped the Garden into a frenzy with the Ball family sitting courtside, but in the end the Lakers fell short against Kristaps Porzingis and the New York Knicks 113-109 in overtime.
On this night it appeared that Los Angeles’ only chance to stop Porzingis would have been to draft him three years ago. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the foresight to do so as he led New York with 37 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, one steal, five blocks and a plus-5 rating for the game. He shot 14-of-26 from the floor, 5-of-8 from 3-point range and 4-of-5 from the free throw line for an all around dominant performance.
The Lakers started the game out strong, winning the first quarter decisively and ending the period with a 29-25 edge. They out shot the Knicks 44.0 percent vs. 39.3 percent, hit 4-of-10 from 3-point range and went to the line five times compared to one. Every single Laker had a positive rating through one quarter with Brook Lopez leading the way for them with seven points, three rebounds, one assist and three turnovers.
For the Knicks the first period was all about Porzingis as he came out scorching with 12 points, one block, one steal and four rebounds.
Los Angeles’ bench took over the beginning of the second frame extending their lead to 42-32. That’s when the Knicks brought Porzingis back into the game and New York went on a 18-9 run to end the half. Courtney Lee was pivotal during the stretch winning a personal battle with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and ending the half with 10 points, two rebounds, one assist and a plus-5 rating.
The beginning of the second half was much of the same as the Knicks extended their run with a 7-0 streak to take a six-point lead, forcing coach Luke Walton to take an early timeout. It was at that point the Ball began an electric stretch elevating his game and his body to throw down a Caldwell-Pope pass for an alley-oop dunk, hitting a 3-pointer, converting a layup, and then hitting Lopez with a perfect pass for a 3-pointer. Ball led the Lakers back from their deficit to end the third with a 79-76 lead and finished the third with 15 points, five assists, six rebounds and two steals.
The Knicks bench, and in particular rookie Frank Ntilikina along with veteran Michael Beasley, took over from there. Ntilikina used his seven-foot wing span to play excellent defense on the Laker guards while scoring a career-high 13 points with five assists, five rebounds, one steal and only one turnover. He played the entire fourth quarter and overtime and shut down Ball effectively. Beasley had 12 points through the fourth and overtime, finishing 13 points, five rebounds, two assists, one steal and a plus-5 rating.
It looked like the Knicks had the game won at 94-99 before the Lakers made an remarkable run to tie the game at 99. They were also able to stifle Porzingis on the last play of regulation in order to force the extra period.
Unfortunately the Knicks won overtime decisively with a strong effort from Beasley and a couple timely baskets by Doug McDermott. One of the key baskets came on an offensive rebound where McDermott blatantly held Ball leading to his teamate getting the rebound and passing it to him for the hoop.
The Lakers had several strong performances on the evening including Ball who finished with 17 points, six assists, eight rebounds, two steals and one block. He shot a respectable 6-of-13 from the floor, 3-of-6 from 3-point range and 2-of-3 from the free throw line. However spectacular his stretches were, he finished with a game worst minus-11 rating.
He was joined by his starting backcourt mate Caldwell-Pope who led the team in scoring with 24 points while adding four rebounds, three assists and three steals. The Lakers starting guards each had only one turnover to go with their combined nine assists which was extremely impressive.
Kyle Kuzma was the second Laker with a grand debut at the Garden with 19 points, six rebounds, one assist and two blocks on 8-of-17 shooting from the floor and 3-of-6 3-point shooting.
Almost more noticeable then the outstanding performances on the night was the dud Brandon Ingram dropped on Tuesday night. Ingram missed his first 10 shots from the floor and failed to reach double-digit scoring for the first time in 10 games. He finished the game with five points, five assists, seven rebounds, one steal, one block and a minus-8 rating. Ingram shot 2-of-12 from the field, 0-of-1 from 3-point range and 1-of-1 from the line.
One mistake coach Walton made was not to foul the Knicks when the Lakers were down four with just over 30 seconds remaining. The Lakers were able to get a stop against New York and a quick basket, the Knicks had the ball with under two seconds remaining and the Lakers still had a foul to give. It was a strategic mistake after the coach had a solid stretch the last two games.
Along those lines, the Lakers had a sit down talk with Lavar Ball this week to discuss him toning down his attacks against coach Walton. Further details will be available after the full article by Ramona Shelbourne has been published but in the interim, one can imagine tonight’s loss and errors will not help contain Ball’s rhetoric.
Stats and Observations
- The Knicks have one 13 of their total 14 games on the season at home — they are difficult to beat in the Garden.
- Los Angeles shot well from 3-point range hitting 13-of-35 good for 37.1 percent. Unfortunately they allowed New York to shoot an excellent 9-of-22 for 40.9 percent.
- The Lakers exceeded their season free throw shooting percentage by hitting 12-of-15 free throws for 80.0 percent whereas the Knicks were below their average shooting only 8-of-11 for 72.7 percent.
- Los Angeles went into the fourth quarter with only nine turnovers and a three-point lead. They would go on to commit seven turnovers in the fourth quarter and overtime and consequently lost the game.
- The Knicks outplayed the Lakers across the board statistically after the end of the third quarter. They had three steals to zero, four blocks to two, and committed only one turnover.
The Lakers (10-16) head to Cleveland to take on LeBron James and the piping hot Cavs (20-8) who have won 15-of-16 games. The Cavs are fresh off a 123-114 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in which James scored 25 points with 17 assists, seven rebounds and two steals on 11-of-13 shooting from the field. He is currently in a two-man race with James Harden and playing some of the best basketball of his career.
Laker fans are hoping for an extremely difficult upset on the road as well as dreaming of another long-shot upset — that the next time the Lakers play in Cleveland that James will suit up for the Purple and Gold.