Like Winning an NBA Title! March 17, 2019: Knicks 124 Lakers 123

Winning this game felt like winning an NBA title. After so many losses in a row, to beat the Lakers, with LeBron James, at Madison Square Garden on a Sunday afternoon — a comeback win — a poetic win — a season highlight for Knicks fans and it’s all GREEN from here. Every Knick fan on Twitter seemed psyched! Knicks have some terrific young players, free agent space for 2 max contracts, a top pick in the draft coming, AND they swept the Lakers in the season series!! Beating LeBron! Kevin Durant was probably watching this game!!

Knicks Were Like Poets; Hope they Don’t Blow It

Now if they can just lose their next 10 in a row to keep that positioning for the draft — and not BLOW it like they’ve done in previous seasons where they start winning meaningless games in the last two weeks…

Even with the win the Knicks have a 2.5 game lead over Phoenix and 3-game lead over Cleveland for the worst record in the league. 12 games to go.

The Buildup to the Exciting Finish

This was a close game throughout — the Knicks jumped out to a 10-point lead in the 1st quarter, but the Lakers came back in the 2nd quarter to take a slight lead at the half. The game was tied in the 4th, but then Laker reserve Alex Caruso came off the bench to make some key pain-in-the-ass plays and LeBron turned on some juice, to give the Lakers a 9-pt lead.

The poetic part of the victory was written in that 4th. Caruso made a couple of dirty plays and got rewarded — on one Allonzo Trier drove to the basket and got HACKED by Caruso across the arms, so hard that his hand came up and hit Caruso in the face off reflex. The refs reviewed the play and somehow impossibly called Trier for a 2-shot flagrant foul !! That was a big turnaround as Trier should have been to the line for 2 free throws.

Then a few minutes later, in a play off the ball — Caruso stopped dead in his tracks running in reverse back upcourt and Kurt Thomas, not expecting it, ran into him — an offense foul was called.

The Knicks started to go after Caruso a little bit, Kurt Thomas overtrying to block him on a drive and running into Emmanuel Mudiay, and then Mudiay trip fouling Caruso in the last minute.

The Exciting Finish!

But the Knicks came back. Mudiay (8-11, 3-4 from 3, 28 pts, 8 assists) attacked, attacked, attacked — that’s what he does. And Kevin Knox (8-14, 3-5 from 3, 19 pts, 6 rebounds) had his best game in a while, start to finish. Hitting pretty 3’s off the pass, and finishing well on some terrific drives to the basket.

And then finally it came down to the final plays — Mudiay drove to the basket and found Damyean Dotson underneath to pull Knicks within 1 point.

Next time down court, Mudiay hit two free throws to put the Knicks ahead by a point. And then.. LeBron James took the Lakers’ final shot, guarded by Mario Hezonja.

Hezonja played Great hounding defense on LeBron — not letting him get by, and then blocked his shot. Hezonja was trending on Twitter for hours afterwards. Before the block, Hezonja had been having a good game (4-8, 17 pts, 8 rebounds)  — his first game back after a long absence due to injury. LeBron finished with 33 points on 11-26, and 0-6 from 3, 6 rebounds, 8 assists.

This was the kind of reaction the Hezonja play made:

The Rest of the Game

DeAndre Jordan crushed the boxscore again — 15 pts (on 6-10), 17 rebounds, 7 assists. Damyean Dotson looked like a starting NBA shooting guard (10-20, 25 pts). The Knicks starters all played 33 to 41 minutes — the bench only got 12 to 17 minutes — Fizdale was going for the win with the guys who were hot.

Mitchell Robinson only got 15 minutes, and was 1-2, 3 pts, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks. When asked after the game why Robinson played so sparingly, Fizdale said it was because DeAndre Jordan was playing so well so he stuck with him. Allonzo Trier only got 16 minutes — 2-5 shooting for 4 pts. Kadeem Allen got 17 min, 7 pts, and Lance Thomas 12 min, 7 pts. Henry Ellenson, Luke Kornet, and John Jenkins did not play. Frank Ntilikina remained injured.

For the Lakers

Kyle Kuzma played well — 8-14 for 18 pts, 8 rebounds. JaVale McGee was also tough inside — 6-10 for 12 pts, 7 rebounds. Reggie Bullock shot 6-10 for 14 poits; Kentavious Caldwell-Pope shot 4-11 (2-7 from 3) for 11 pts, and Rajon Rondo had 3 pts, 5 assists and a -11 i 28 minutes. Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram are out for the rest of the season with injuries.

The boxscore:

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