Randle, Clarkson Power L.A. Past Sluggish Knicks Defense | The Knicks Wall
March 2018
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Randle, Clarkson Power L.A. Past Sluggish Knicks Defense

Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson provided a punch off the bench with 29 points as the Knicks once again fail to string two road wins in a row.

The next stop on the Knicks’ (21–26) West Coast swing brought them to Staples Center to take on the young Lakers (17–29) as the Knicks hoped to build off their defiant win in Utah on Friday. The Knicks, with only five road wins on the season, had won their last three meetings at Staples, while the Lakers were without Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Lonzo Ball (L.A. was 1–8 without Ball prior to Sunday’s contest.)

The game had a particularly unstructured, playground feel to it—even for a Sunday afternoon in January—defined by quick-triggers, easy assists, and almost no concern for defense, especially from the Knicks. Ultimately, the Knicks could never clean up their act, and the athletic Lakers pulled away in the fourth quarter by outscoring the Knicks 30–18 in the period to secure a 127–107 victory.

The Knicks’ putrid effort was one of their worst of the season, as they clearly struggled with the speed of this bouncy Lakers squad. L.A. seemed to grab every “50-50” ball and routinely beat the Knicks down the floor, leading to easy buckets and second-chance opportunities (the Lakers came in first in the NBA in second chance points). In a game in which both teams shot efficiently at high volumes, turnovers (17 for the Knicks compared to six for LA) and steals (10-3 in favor of the Lakers) resulted in a 22-7 fast break advantage for speedy Lakers, which probably decided the outcome.

The Lakers shot 56 percent from the field, led by Julius Randle (27 points on 11-of-17 shooting, 12 rebounds), and Jordan Clarkson (29 points on 12-of-19 from the floor, 10 assists, and eight rebounds). They seemed to get whatever they wanted on the offensive end, as the Knicks only forced six turnovers. L.A. had six players in double figures, and routinely found open guys around the rim with the Knicks’ bigs drawn out of the paint.

The Knicks seemed a full step slower, and couldn’t make up for it despite one of their better shooting days of the season (though the offensive-minded Lakers put up limited resistance). New York continued its recent hot three-point shooting (12-of-25) trend, especially Tim Hardaway Jr., 17 points, who added five more triples after knocking down six in Salt Lake City.

The Knicks converted 54.3 percent of their shot attempts and tallied 32 assists on 44 buckets (the Lakers had 31 dimes of their own) in the process, featuring a series of nifty interior dimes:

Kristaps Porzingis (7-of-13 from the field) and Michael Beasley (7-of-9) also added 17 points each, Enes Kanter posted 12 points and 14 boards, and Courtney Lee contributed 16 points.

This was a game so free of defense, at one point in the third quarter, Mike Breen wondered aloud if he ever remembered a game featuring so many wide-open shots for both teams. In the end, despite some late chippiness, the Knicks could never flip the switch and get stops, allowing the Lakers to take the lead early in the fourth and only pull away from there (the Lakers won the fourth-quarter, 30-18).

Jeff Hornacek’s team will certainly have to tighten the screws for their next matchup: Tuesday against Golden State at Oracle Arena will surely be a doozy for the orange and blue.

Staff Writer