The Knicks led 32-19 after a first quarter in which they shot 56% from the field to the Lakers 25%. Ryan Kelly did not look as overmatched initially as one would expect guarding a noticeably disinterested Carmelo Anthony, but Melo still scored 6 points with 2 assists. Fellow New York starters Langston Galloway, Jason Smith, and Jose Calderon gave him some help by only missing 3 of their 12 shots. Yes those are all real NBA players I promise. The biggest negative for the Lakers in the first quarter, not just for this game but potentially for the season, was Jordan Hill leaving just 7 minutes into the game with a rectus femorus strain in his right quadricep, and the team will await news of how serious or long term this injury to one of their most effecetive (and therefore tradeable) players is.
LA's 13-5 run to begin second quarter pulled them within 5, but the Knicks were able to stretch their lead back to 47-39 by the end of the first half behind some quality tank defense by Wesley Johnson allowing Melo to score 7 more points. Jordan Clarkson missed 4 of his first 6 attempts, but used his quick first step to get into the paint and draw four free throws to score 8 points. Jeremy Lin played well off of the bench, dishing five assists in his return to Madison Square Garden. The score at halftime resembled a high scoring football game on Super Bowl Sunday, but the offense was anything but exciting. The Lakers shot a putrid 26.8% from the field, while the Knicks shot a merely below average 46.3% in comparison.
Further evidence of the lethargy on display in this game was neither team having a single fast break point in the first half. One positive for the Lakers? They managed to shoot 4-10 on threes in the first half, but unfortunately could not shoot more because "threes don't win championships" and the Lakers were trying to win this Super Bowl!
Melo scoring watch really got going in the third, as the former Syracuse Orangeman got up to 31 points by the end of the third, scoring 18 in the frame as Kelly and other Lakers defenders looked hopelessly overmatched against him. This scoring binge left the Knicks ahead 72-57 heading into the final frame, where the Lakers never seriously threatened, trailing by as much as 20.
Carlos Boozer shot just 6-15, but showed the offensive effectiveness he has displayed since his move to the bench by scoring 19 points points. Clarkson managed to get 19 points of his own on 6-13 from the field, including a promising 3-5 from distance, and continued to show why his potential deserves a look at starter. None of this was enough to overcome Carmelo Anthony (31 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists), who at times resembled a Varsity player slumming it with Freshman in this contest to easily claim Super Bowl MVP and grab the Lombardi trophy for the title starved Knicks franchise. Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher just keep racking up those rings.
Ugly losses are never any fun to watch, but at least Lakers fans looking to the future can take solace in the fact that this loss moves the team two games closer to the Knicks in the Lottery odds standings. The team will take the next few days off to recover from this hideous performance, and will next lace them up against the exciting, young Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.