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Lakers rally after slow start, but fall late to Knicks without LeBron James

A game that began looking like another lackluster Laker performance changed drastically, but an explosion from Russell Westbrook wasn’t enough to give the Lakers a victory against the Knicks.

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Los Angeles Lakers v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After falling behind by as much as 25 points in the first half, the Lakers nearly crawled all the way back in Madison Square Garden against the Knicks on Tuesday before falling late. Russell Westbrook led the near, LeBron James-less upset with a dynamite third quarter, but it wasn’t enough to stop L.A. from losing 106-100 after multiple failed comeback attempts.

The purple and gold came out slow for the second straight game, finding themselves down double digits nearly the entire first half. A spirited rally in the second quarter brought the game closer, and an even more energetic third quarter helped the team eventually tie the game in the fourth quarter.

But the effort used to get back into the game left the Lakers drained down the stretch and a number of big shots from the Knicks in the fourth, namely from Immanuel Quickley, proved to be the deciding factor.

Westbrook finished with a triple-double on the night, tallying 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists with 18 of those points coming in the third quarter. Anthony Davis added 20 points while battling through non-COVID-related flu-like symptoms , Avery Bradley scored 15 to go with nine boards, and Malik Monk and Carmelo Anthony each had 12 points off the bench.

The Lakers came out of the gate slowly — apparently confusing the first quarter for the third — and fell behind 10-0 before a quick timeout from head coach Frank Vogel. They did little more than tread water in the ensuing minutes before the bottom fell out once more as they trailed 36-20 after the first.

Things did not get any better to start the second period with the lead growing to as many as 25 points following an Alec Burks free throw with 7:04 left. Monk helped jumpstart a run that included a handful of buckets from Davis, and plenty of big plays on both ends of the court from Bradley.

Eventually, the lead was trimmed to just 12 points at 63-51 going into the half. A quick 5-0 run to start the second half cut it all the way down to seven points and forced a Knicks timeout. Westbrook came out of the timeout with a jumper and a fastbreak assist to cut the lead to three points.

The energy remained and, eventually, a Westbrook 3-pointer and Carmelo Anthony fastbreak dunk tied the game at 79-79 with 90 seconds left in the frame. Westbrook answered a pair of Quickley free throws with a driving layup to keep the game tied at 81-81, but Obi Toppin’s dunk gave the Knicks a two-point lead heading into the fourth.

The fourth quarter did not offer the same encouraging start with some sloppy play allowing the Knicks back-to-back baskets to increase the lead to 90-84. Quickley pushed the lead back to eight points with a 3-pointer that rattled in and put the hosts ahead 95-87, giving the Knicks breathing room they wouldn’t relinquish, despite a final run by the Lakers to bring things within six.

The Lakers will finish off their road trip with a back-to-back in Indianapolis on Wednesday with LeBron likely to return to the court after serving his one-game suspension. Tip-off for the contest is set for 4 p.m. PT.

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