It was a tight game late, but Anthony Davis made big stops in the fourth and Austin Reaves got red-hot, scoring five straight points and 14 of his 22 in the fourth as the Lakers pulled away in the closing minutes.
Davis missed the last two games for the Lakers but returned tonight and had 11 points, 18 rebounds and five assists in his 36 minutes of play.
LeBron James also made his return on Saturday and was playing at his All-Star level, scoring 24 points, grabbing five rebounds and dishing out five assists.
Taurean Prince was relegated to the bench and did well defending Jalen Brunson and scoring 16 points, even if he did have some headache-inducing turnovers in the fourth.
With Davis and James both missing the previous game versus the Celtics, they started off a bit rusty on Saturday. The Lakers went 0-5 from three to start the game, but New York was struggling just as much and the game started tied up at 10 after six minutes.
Davis wasn't scoring early, but he was crashing the boards, grabbing nine in the opening frame helping the Lakers end the opening quarter up 27-25.
With Jarred Vanderbilt out and potentially missing the rest of the season, other players must step up during his absence. Max Christie is a player who has gotten more run recently and he took advantage of his opportunities in the second quarter. He got a nice block on Malachi Flynn and followed that up with a three to give the Lakers a six-point advantage, their largest of the half.
The Knicks went on multiple scoring bursts throughout the closing minutes and the Lakers countered with buckets by D'Angelo Russell and Davis. Both teams entered the halftime break with 59 points.
In the third quarter, the game continued being physical in the post and Davis' frustration got the better of him as the referees issued him a technical foul for complaining about the lack of calls.
Davis started being the aggressor, protecting the rim with blocks on Josh Hart and Brunson to kill New York's momentum.
ANTHONY DAVIS WITH THE DOUBLE BLOCK pic.twitter.com/vnzO7IuanG— Ahn Fire Digital (@AhnFireDigital) February 4, 2024
Brunson came roaring back, converting on a three, part of an 8-4 run to extend their lead to six entering the final quarter of play.
The Lakers came out blazing to start the fourth. James made a quick layup and Taurean Prince hit a three, forcing Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau to call an early quarter timeout.
The pause in play didn’t interrupt L.A.’s momentum as they continued to pile on starting the quarter on a 9-0 run.
The Lakers’ strategy defensively in the fourth was clear. Double Brunson and let someone else beat you. The Knicks didn’t have a counter and went ice-cold from the field, going scoreless for over six minutes and Reaves iced the game for good with a pair of free throws.
Don't look now, but the Lakers are playing well.
Jaxson Hayes has had his two best games as a Laker. Prince was a star in his role coming off the bench and James and Davis were as elite as ever. With wins against some of the best teams out East on the road, the Lakers reminded us that when they are clicking on all cylinders, they can compete with anyone.
They have one more road game during this trip against the Charlotte Hornets. It will be their last game before the Feb. 8 trade deadline and with so many trade rumors swirling, this may be the last time we see this current iteration of the Lakers suit up.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.