The Knicks, short-handed and running on fumes while riding a nine-game win streak, went cold in the fourth against a stifling Lakers defense.

It was a Saturday National TV Matchup between the hottest team in the NBA, the short-handed Knicks, riding high on a league-high nine-game win streak, tied for the longest of the franchise since 2013, against the Lakers, fresh off a dominant win against the Celtics.

With OG Anunoby, Julius Randle, and Quentin Grimes all still out with various injuries, the Knicks were once again relying on the now-proven formula of Jalen Brunson plus hustle, and it showed in the first quarter. Donte DiVincenzo got the action started with a nice drive, which is fitting, but the two teams combined to go 0-13 from three to start.

The Knicks were unable to get much going early, while also struggling with early TOs that LeBron James and the Lakers capitalized on for fastbreak points. Despite the cold shooting, offensive rebounds and Jalen’s deadly midrange game kept the Knicks in the game early.

Donte started off cold from deep in the first but hit the Knicks’ first three after seven straight misses to give them a 17-15 lead, which Prince immediately erased with a dunk off an AD dime.

After AD grabbed his ninth rebound of the first quarter, DiVo fouled Christie on a made three to let the Lakers extend their lead to three. DiVo hit the team’s second three to tie it back up 20-20, and after some back and forth, Josh Hart hit a three and a floater to end the quarter, sending the Knicks into the break down 27-25.

The second quarter started with the two teams exchanging buckets. Brunson hit a three and Miles McBride hit a tough floater over Jaxson Hayes, but on the other end, LeBron was going to work, hitting a three, getting to the line, and getting easy looks for his teammates.

Tom Thibodeau gave Brunson a rest to start the second and ran a Deuce-Malachi Flynn backcourt, to mixed results. Flynn had a nice look from the midrange, but after yet another easy Hayes bucket, Thibs called timeout with the Knicks down four and 8:18 on the clock.

They came out of the timeout with a nice but botched out-of-bounds play that Jericho Sims managed to convert just by virtue of being huge and athletic. Precious Achiuwa stayed active on the offensive boards, getting easy looks to help bail out a spluttering Knicks offense. The name of the game in this stretch was treading water until Brunson could return, and the Knicks did just that. Brunson returned with 6:07 to go only down four points, which Brunson immediately cut to two.

Brunson kept his hot play going with 17 first-half points but Austin Reaves started getting loose, making plays for himself and for others. A Donte three tied the game at 55-55 with a minute to go, and after some back-and-forth with the Lakers hitting around the rim and some free throws from Precious and Isaiah Hartenstein, the teams went into the break tied 59-59. Despite giving up nine first-quarter rebounds to The Brow, the Board Bros of Hart, Hartenstein, and Precious combined for 20 first-half rebounds and gave the Knicks a 33 to 25 advantage on the glass. Given that the Knicks were missing key players, shooting 29% from three, and only forced one LA turnover, it was an encouraging half.

AD started the second half off with a nasty block on Precious, but LeBron responded by dribbling the ball out of bounds. A few possessions later, LeBron got the scoring started with a pullup from the midrange, to which Donte immediately responded with an open three.

A vicious iHart block on Reaves led to LeBron trying to get a trademark chasedown on DiVo in transition, but too late, and DiVo followed up with another strong take to the basket a few plays later to push the lead to six. Hart was once again everywhere, getting tough boards and making plays for the big men to get easy looks around the bucket.

As the clock ran down in the third, the defense tightened up, with LeBron and Anthony Davis combining for three quick blocks, and Donte getting one back before capping a wild play with a hard foul on Reaves that sent Reaves careening into Bron that was luckily not called a flagrant.

Deuce continued to play well, but in the absence of Grimes, seemed to decide to take his place as the resident open shot-rusher. A Deuce three-point play, a wild take from Precious, and a Brunson three gave the Knicks an eight-point lead, the largest of the night to that point, with a minute to go in the third. A missed Deuce buzzer-beater over LeBron capped the third with the Knicks up 86-80.

The Lakers opened up the fourth with a LeBron layup and a Taurean Prince three, prompting a quick Angry Thibs timeout. Following the timeout, Hartenstein missed two point-blank layups and LeBron came back with a tough fall-away jumper to take a one-point lead for the Lakers. This was immediately followed by a Precious traveling violation and a Reaves made layup over Hartenstein.

Hart stemmed the bleeding with a corner three to tie the game, and a pair of Brunson free throws off a broken play regained the lead for the Bockers, despite the Lakers starting off the quarter 5-6 and the Knicks 1-4. Hartenstein picked up his fifth foul with 7:06 to go, forcing Thibs to sub Sims in.

The Knicks started losing their hold on the rope, with a combination of turnovers, missed or blocked shots, and some good shot-making from the Lakers and were down four with 5:40 left. The Lakers were leading the Knicks 20-10 in the fourth, and the Knicks were doing themselves no favors after a pair of unforced Brunson turnovers. In such a close game, a four-point deficit felt like a mountain to overcome, and it was glaringly clear that the Knicks’ gas tank was dangerously close to empty, especially with the Lakers double-teaming Brunson for much of the fourth, leading to a four-minute scoreless stretch from the Knicks.

Anthony Davis’ rim protection proved the key roadblock for the Knicks, who either passed up shots or had them altered by Davis at the rim all night. Having Precious, Hartenstein, and Hart out there together just didn’t give enough offensive punch, especially given the shots they were giving up. The Knicks ended the game on a seven-minute scoreless streak, just not having the offensive punch to close out the game. Despite fighting all the way to the final buzzer, the Knicks ultimately lost 113-105.

Brunson finished the game with 36 points and 10 assists, despite being shut down late. Donte added 26 points of his own, though he looked more tentative than usual down the stretch. Beyond Anthony Davis’ absurd, Defensive Player of the Year-level impact and LeBron’s floor mastery, Taurean Prince and Austin Reaves were key shot-makers in the second half, securing the win for the Lakers.

The Knicks may have ended their longest win streak in 11 years, but it was still a gritty performance from a very short-handed team. They will look to get a new win streak going on Tuesday against the even more injury-ravaged Grizzlies. Tip-off is at 7:30 pm ET.

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