After sleepwalking through most of the game, the Lakers’ late too-little-too-late rally fell short as they lost to the Knicks on Monday, 114-109.
The Knicks controlled the contest for much of the night, leading by double digits midway through the fourth. The Lakers pieced together a rally that got the lead down to two possessions but never got closer than that.
Anthony Davis' dominance was once again on full display. He put his stamp all over the game scoring 32 points with 14 rebounds, two blocks, and one steal. Austin Reaves continued his positive impact off the bench, scoring 20 points with three rebounds, eight assists and a steal.
It was a slow start for LeBron James, who couldn’t seem to find any rhythm. A hot start to the third quarter suggested he found his groove and while he was better in the second half, it was a stat line with mixed results as he finished with 25 points on 10-23 shooting with 10 rebounds, 11 assists and a -13 plus-minus.
Both teams came out with high energy but they were struggling from the field. AD’s excellent defense was on full display with two early blocks and altering many of the Knicks' shots. The Knicks, though, were able to get a seven-point lead thanks to former Laker Julius Randle heating up, but a Reaves three-pointer cut their lead to four.
Reaves continued to provide his usual spark off the bench, scoring eight points and going two for two from the three. But it wasn’t enough as the Lakers were down eight to end the opening quarter.
The Lakers came out a little better to start the second quarter and a Reaves alley-oop connection with Jaxson Hayes got the team within four. The Knicks were doing a good job answering back whenever the Lakers seemed to gain some momentum.
Jax slam off the Reaves behind-the-back dime pic.twitter.com/PtSDRa68aW— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 19, 2023
The Lakers seemed to miss every single layup they took and the Knicks kept taking advantage of it, extending their lead to double digits. LeBron was having a really slow start to the game and couldn’t find any consistency, ending the half shooting just 3-10 from the field.
AD entered the game after a long rest and started heating up, which brought the deficit to within five. After trailing by as much as 12, the Lakers began a nice surge and took the lead by one at the half. D’Angelo Russell went 3-5 from behind the arc, knocking them down at key moments to help the team’s surge.
The first five points of the second half belonged to LeBron and he connected with AD on a lob as well. As soon as it seemed like the Lakers had figured out how to extend the lead, the Knicks fought back. AD helped get the deficit within two and LeBron tied the game at the halfway point of the quarter.
A wide-open Jalen Brunson three-pointer helped the Knicks retake the lead by two. Both teams went back and forth offensively which kept the game close. At the end of the third, the Lakers lost whatever momentum they had and the Knicks went on a 15-2 run to extend their lead to 10 heading into the fourth.
LAL allowed an 8-0 run in the final minute of the 3rd Q, with a pair of 3's from Quickly (his 3rd) and Grimes (his 1st) and find themselves in a 10-point hole entering the 4th Q.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) December 19, 2023
The Lakers scored only 2 points in the final 3 minutes of the period.
They started the final frame a little shaky but LeBron was able to nail a layup that helped get the Lakers within five. The Lakers couldn’t seem to gain any momentum with 5:47 left in the game and that brought the Knicks lead to 10.
Although Brunson was heating up, AD and LeBron both got layups to help spark some life into the team. AD won a jump ball and heaved the ball to LeBron, who ran straight into a dunk and the Knicks lead was just four.
The final minutes of the game were physical, but the Lakers just couldn’t defend properly to help the momentum they were building. Down by five with a minute left, there was another jump ball, the Lakers got it and LeBron bricked a three-pointer.
The Knicks were able to get the ball to Randle who was waiting alone for the the easiest game-sealing dunk ever. AD made it a three-point game with 10.3 seconds left, but Josh Hart made a pair of free throws to end the Lakers’ hopes.
As soon as the Lakers took a good lead, the Knicks kept fighting back and the Lakers looked discombobulated. They need to figure out how to extend a lead consistently.
They can’t continue to close quarters letting the opposing team go on a run.
They lost the points in the paint battle tonight and that can’t happen. Especially with a dominant AD. Keep feeding the beast!
AD and LeBron did what your superstars should always be able to do, taking over the game at the end to help spark some life into the team, but it wasn’t enough because the game was so off for the Lakers from the start.
Tauren Prince playing more minutes than AD and taking/missing 450 thousand three-pointers is not the recipe for success.
The Lakers’ next game is on Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls at 5:00 PM PT.
You can follow Karin on Twitter at @KarinAbcarians.