The Knicks’ perpetual second-half comeback on Wednesday against the Lakers was for naught, as LeBron James and his team narrowly pulled away with the win.
The New York Knicks (12-33) once again fell to the Los Angeles Lakers (35-9), losing 100-92. Unlike the last meeting between the two teams, this game was mostly competitive.
Both teams traded leads to start, and the first quarter ended with the Lakers up by three. New York got a boost from big man Taj Gibson, who chipped in eight points on 4-of-4 from the field in the opening frame (three of which were assisted by Elfrid Payton).
The Knicks started off scorching hot from beyond the arc, making 6-of-10 shots from deep in the first 15 minutes of the game with three of them coming from third-year swingman Damyean Dotson. New York shot 3-of-24 on triples the rest of the game, however.
? DOTSON TAKEOVER ? pic.twitter.com/hJNEeycIBK— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) January 23, 2020
A 48-48 tie at the break turned into 61-54 advantage for the Lakers four minutes into the second half. The lead was partly due to the Knicks committing three shooting fouls in that span.
The Knicks entered the fourth quarter down six points, but a quick 7-0 run by the Lakers prompted a Mike Miller timeout just a minute and a half in. Los Angeles kept its foot on the gas and held the lead the rest of the way.
Miller made a head-scratching decision as he attempted to mount a comeback: he played Julius Randle and Bobby Portis, who shot a combined 8-for-24 from the floor, down the stretch. Rather than play Gibson, who has a stronger interior presence on both ends, Miller opted for Randle and Portis as the bigs to anchor the comeback.
Miller also chose not to deploy second-year center and seven-footer Mitchell Robinson until there were fewer than four minutes remaining. Robinson was a menace on the boards, keeping missed shots alive, and pulling down 12 rebounds in 24 minutes against the big-bodied L.A. squad.
LeBron James tallied 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting in the first half. He converted in the paint time after time and added some off-the-dribble three-pointers. James scored just two points on just 1-for-6 shooting in the second half and finished with 21 points, six rebounds, five assists, and five steals. (The Lakers star is chasing Kobe Bryant’s third place all-time in scoring, which he’ll likely accomplish within the next two games.)
Anthony Davis started strong as well, recording nine points and four assists in the opening quarter. His defense, particularly on Julius Randle, was fantastic. The Brow finished with 28 points on 7-of-14 from the floor and a perfect 13-for-13 free throw shooting. He also recorded five rebounds and five assists.
Late injury updates
Less than an hour before tip-off, the Knicks announced that Marcus Morris and Dennis Smith Jr. were available to play.
Morris hurt his ankle in New York’s victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday but started tonight. The veteran forward was New York’s leading scorer with 20 points on 4-of-9 shooting from three.
??? BALL MOVEMENT ALWAYS LEADS TO GOOD THINGS— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) January 23, 2020
Mook with the 4-point play. pic.twitter.com/O1m9KGNkTi
Smith was available for the first time in 13 games after dealing with a strained left oblique. He played four minutes, missed both of his field goals and recorded one rebound.
Damyean Dotson and Taj Gibson both put up strong offensive performances tonight.
Dotson matched his season-high in triples with five. He ended the night with 17 points on 6-of-13 from the field and 5-for-11 from behind the arc.
PUTTING THE WHOLETEAM ON HIS BACK pic.twitter.com/Q2eJvFkdmp— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) January 23, 2020
Gibson made all six of his shots, which was tied for the second-highest amount of field goals he has made without a miss in his career. He finished with 12 points and five rebounds in 18 minutes.
Elf and Taj getting the night started with a little 2 man game. pic.twitter.com/9rK09XfHLG— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) January 23, 2020
Though both of them were on their games, only one of them (Dotson) played in the fourth quarter. Miller chose to go with a more balanced offensive scheme down the stretch instead of riding the hot hands. Dotson had cooled off by then, though, shooting 1-for-6 in the final quarter.
The Knicks’ next game is Friday night at home at 7:30 p.m. ET against the Toronto Raptors.