Knicks Beat Lakers. 5 Reasons Why NY 111 LA 96 on 4-12-21

Elfrid Payton shall lead them. Julius Randle shall power them. And the Knicks DEFENSE shall smother them. Two days after the Lakers annihilated the Brooklyn Nets in Brooklyn, the Knicks beat the Lakers with relative ease. (Although it goes without saying, LeBron James and Anthony Davis are currently out injured.)

Reasons how:

1. Payton Leads

Elfrid Payton looks fully healed from the slight hamstring pull; he was at his penetrating best, and leading the energy on Defense against Dennis Schroder. Note that Schroder and Kyrie Irving got into a tussle and double ejection in the Brooklyn game with the score 66-62 LA, so that is one of the reasons why Brooklyn got blasted by LA — the Nets rely so heavily on Kyrie with James Harden out and Kevin Durant just back from being out two months.

In this game Payton took care of the difficult Schroder who attacks and leads the LA offense in so many ways. And Payton penetrated, penetrated, penetrated. He lived in the lane; finished with 20 points on 9-12 shooting (didn’t take a 3), 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a by-far team high +27. Read that again, PLUS 27.

Derrick Rose came off the bench to add 14 points at the point position on 5-9 shooting, hitting the mid range and distributing. Rick Pitino must have been watching the game because he tweetedDerrick Rose is as good a mid range shooter as there is in the NBA. Durant and Rose are 1/2.”

Rose though wasn’t as strong on the court as Payton and it showed in his -10 — he was a little shaky and has had a tendency this year to leave his feet then look to pass — it has not resulted in turnovers but a lot of ‘phew’ moments. Surprisingly Walt Frazier has not called him on it; this is one of Frazier’s pet peeves.

2. Randle Powered

Julius Randle, playing against his old club, whom he admitted before the game he looks forward to getting revenge against for trading him, played a little out of control for the first three quarters — he seemed to be forcing things; trying too hard. But in the 4th quarter he ‘settled down’ and dominated.

He finished with 34 points on 13-23 shooting (2-6 from 3, 6-7 in free throws), 10 rebounds, 4 assists, and a +11. His 7 turnovers were a consequence of his trying too hard in the first 3 quarters.

3. Knicks’ DEFENSE

The Knicks Defense suffocated LA all evening. NY pressured everything, all the time. NY forced the Lakers into 24 turnovers. RJ Barrett had a bad shooting game — was 0-8 at one point before finishing 2-11 for only 7 points. But he was a +18 in 33 minutes, playing tremendous Defense. As a Knick fan wrote on twitter, it was the best 7-point game of all time.

Reggie Bullock was a big part of that Defense, and Payton, and Randle, and Alec Burks, and Immanuel Quickley and .. special mention to the Knicks big men.. Taj Gibson and Nerlens Noel.

4. Noel and Gibson DID A JOB on Drummond

Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson DID A JOB on Andre Drummond. They kept Drummond out of the paint to the tune of he had 3 points on 1-3 shooting in 25 minutes. Drummond had KILLED the Nets, devastating them inside. Not so against Noel and Taj.

The Knicks had been widely rumored to be looking to trade for Drummond at the trade deadline, a trade that never went down — in fact afterwards the Knicks announced they never had interest. Some in media like Stefan Bondy of the Daily News suggested that was a ploy by the Knicks after learning Drummond had no interest in them and the trade to LA was done; but that doesn’t seem to hold water. The Knicks and coach Tom Thibodeau seemed to want to keep the team chemistry in tact at this trade deadline, and Taj Gibson is one of Thib’s guys.

In this game Noel and Gibson were TENACIOUS. As usual. Noel had 6 pts, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 4 steals in 30 minutes, and Gibson had 8 pts, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals in 17 minutes. This was a statement game for Noel and Gibson: I tweeted this and a lot of people agreed.

5. Final Minutes

With all that — and the Knicks up by a dozen throughout against this deep and well-coached (Frank Vogel) team — the Lakers were able to make a run and pull to within 5 (92-87) with 5:14 left after Marc Gasol hit a 3, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a 3, and Markieff Morris made a driving layup off a Schroder feed.

But the Knicks got back to work — Elfrid Payton immediately drove the lane for a big, tough bucket, then Julius Randle hit a key jumper, and then some free throws and the Knicks were back up by 13. Elfrid Payton added another tough bucket inside off a Nerlens Noel pass, and then Payton fed Randle for a drive and NY was up 104-89 with 2:04 left and Ballgame.

The Boxscore


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