If you’re a fan of defense, Tuesday’s game between the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks was tailor-made for you. However, if you’re a fan of the Knicks, Tuesday’s game may have fallen just short of your expectations.
After ending regulation knotted up at 91-91, the Lakers came up big in overtime and won 101-99 — or should I say, Talen Horton-Tucker came up big.
With Alex Caruso on the bench in overtime due to a sore right foot, Frank Vogel turned to Horton-Tucker to close the game at point guard if for no other reason than he had no other ball-handlers at his disposal.
At first, it seemed like that decision would come back to haunt him, as the Chicago native had his pocket picked by his childhood idol Derrick Rose with less than a minute left on the game clock.
However, when Horton-Tucker was matched up with Rose again after a strong defensive possession from Anthony Davis and Wesley Matthews, he pulled from behind the arc and drained what ended up being the game-winning 3-point shot. You can’t script it much better than that for a 20-year-old who was taken with the No. 46 pick in the NBA Draft not even two years ago.
As great as Horton-Tucker’s shot was, he wouldn’t have even been in that position had it not been for the contributions his teammates made on both ends of the floor. Even with James, Schröder and Caruso out, the Lakers look as good as they’ve looked all season on the defensive end and they made their shots an efficient clip (42.9%). The aforementioned Matthews play a big part in both of those things.
Andre Drummond also had arguably his best game in a Lakers uniform, tallying 16 points, 18 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks. He’s put up better-looking stat lines since coming to Los Angeles, but this was against a legitimately good defensive team. He was great.
Tuesday’s win might not end up meaning anything to their place in the standings when the regular season is officially over, but it showed just how good the Lakers can be when the stakes are high. They’ll look to carry that sense of desperation into their game against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.