Tough One to Swallow. 5 Reasons Why Lakers 101 Knicks 99 in OT

The Knicks had the Lakers on the ropes throughout the 4th quarter, with a 4- to 10-pt lead at times, and looked like they were going to win.

And it looked like the Knicks won the game when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed a 3 from the corner with 5 seconds left, NY leading 91-89. But Wesley Matthews snuck in to put an offensive rebound back in to tie the game and essentially send it to overtime — the play of the game.

In OT, the Knicks had a 99-98 lead and the ball with 38 seconds left when Julius Randle was called for a travel — arguable call it didn’t look like a travel and if so marginal at best; something not normally called — but Lakers got the ball and Talen Horton-Tucker hit a 3 with 20 seconds left to give the Lakers the lead and the eventual win.

It is hard to write up a game like this which swung back and forth so many times — 20-something lead changes; so many big shots made; so many big shots missed. In the end, LA squeaked by in overtime and the Knicks fell from 4th to 6th place in the standings — with the same 38-31 record as Atlanta and Miami but trailing them both due to tie breakers. Miami holds the tiebreaker on the Knicks; NY holds the tiebreaker on Atlanta; Atlanta holds the tiebreaker on Miami. Like a scene out of a Quentin Tarantino movie.

The Lakers were without LeBron James and point guard Dennis Schröder. The Knicks were without Immanuel Quickley, Alec Burks, and of course Mitchell Robinson out for the rest of the year with the broken foot.


1. Knick Defense Matched by Laker Defense

The game was hard fought back and forth all night — the Knicks going on little runs to take the lead, the Lakers going on runs to come back. The Knicks led by 4 to 10 points throughout the 4th quarter and when Frank Ntilikina hit a 3 with 7:39 left to give the Knicks a 10-point lead at 85-75, it looked like the Knicks were on their way to victory.

But serendipity, the Laker defense, and some 3’s got LA right back in the game. Serendipity happened on a couple of plays where torrid Knick defense caused a Laker miss but LA somehow got back the ball and then hit a 3. Some of the serendipity was due to an offensive rebound by Andre Drummond, who had a very good game (16 pts, 18 rebounds); some of it was simply the ball bouncing out to a Laker.

The Lakers matched the Knicks defensive intensity. They are coached by Frank Vogel — one of the best defensive coaches in the game, matching Tom Thibodeau. NY came in with the 4th best defense in the league; LA is ranked #1.

2. Randle & Rose Focus of Offense — Good & Bad

The Good

Julius Randle and Derrick Rose led the Knicks offense throughout the game but especially late in the 3rd quarter, in the 4th quarter, and throughout Overtime. Randle put on an All Star show, with big bucket after big bucket — mostly outplaying Anthony Davis throughout the evening. And Rose penetrating, orchestrating, hitting the floater.

Rose and Randle got the Knicks back on top at the end of the 3rd quarter, erasing a 6-pt deficit to the Lakers, and then led the NY charge in the 4th.

Randle had 31 pts on 11-26 shooting (4-8 from 3, 5-5 in free throws), 8 rebounds, 5 assists. Anthony Davis had 20 pts on 8-23 shooting, 6 rebounds, 4 assists.

Derrick Rose had 27 pts on 10-22 shooting, 6 rebounds, 6 assists.

The Bad

But some of this was at the expense of the Knick wing players — Reggie Bullock and RJ Barrett — who didn’t see the ball much. Part of this was due to the torrid Laker defense which shut down the passing lanes and put pressure on the 3.

Both Barrett and Bullock were not having good shooting games from the start — and as the game went late — they hardly saw the ball. Again much of this was due to Laker defense guarding the passing lanes.

Reggie Bullock had only 5 pts on 2-9 shooting (1-5 from 3) in 46 minutes. RJ Barrett had only 8 pts on 2-13 shooting (0-7 from 3) in 38 minutes.

3. Ntilikina a Star

With Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley out, Frank Ntilikina got another chance to play major minutes and unlike the game before, where he found the bench after less than 10 minutes — in this game he Stared. He became a big part of the Knicks Defense and Offense in the 3rd quarter and into the 4th and Overtime — blocking shots, stealing passes, making n0-look passes, and hitting 3’s.

Much of this was going on at 11pm and I tweeted that the French were asleep (it being 5am there) and were missing this. Immediately a number of French fans popped up saying they were right there watching it in France.

Frank Ntilikina had 9 pts on 3-5 shooting (3-4 from 3) in 23 minutes.

4. Randle’s Runner Missed to End Regulation

After Wesley Matthews had tied the game in regulation (above) with the offensive rebound/putback — the Knicks had 3 seconds to try and win the game. They ran a play for Julius Randle and he drove the lane and just missed the layup — putting it up too hard.

5. Barrett’s Missed 3 to End It

The game came down to Knicks ball with 11 second left in Overtime, with LA up by 2 points. The Laker Defense became Intense and the best shot the Knicks could get off was a long 3 by RJ Barrett — 35 feet straight away — that clanked off.

The Boxscore

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