Randle, Barrett & iHart Get Knicks Back on Track. NY 112 Lakers 108

Julius Randle (33 points) carried the Knicks early; RJ Barrett (30 points) carried the Knicks late — and in between, Isaiah Hartenstein was the cornerstone, playing big-body defense on Anthony Davis, ripping down rebounds, and causing turnovers with blocks and deflections. He had 0 points but 11 rebounds and was the most important piece to the win.

Josh Hart was a key ingredient also, as was Miles McBride, Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley and the whole Knick team as NY took control late in the 4th quarter of a game that was close throughout — to go up by 10 with 2:34 left on an RJ Barrett drive. The Knicks then survived an agita ending as the Lakers pulled to within 4.

“I thought we played well in the Sacramento game but we didn’t close,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “Same thing — we had a 3-4 minute stretch yesterday (against the Clippers) where it cost us. Today we did enough to win. The tone was set at the beginning by Julius. It gave us the confidence that, ok, ‘We’re here.’”

“Everyone — RJ big game; Quick big game; Mitch solid,” Thibs continued, “The bench was phenomenal. Deuce gave us great minutes; Obi gave us great minutes; Isaiah gave us great minutes. You can’t ask for more than that. And Josh is Josh — every big play in the 4th — loose balls; rebounds. Hit a big 3 when the game was starting to go the other way. That’s who he is. That’s what a playmaker is. ”

NY ends its 3 game losing streak and is now 40-30, tied with the Nets for 5th place in the East (actually percentage points behind the Nets). The Lakers fall to 33-35.

LeBron James was in street clothes, out an extended period for LA; Jalen Brunson was out for the Knicks, still recovering from the bad ankle sprain.

1. Barrett Took Over in the 4th

The Knicks were down by 3 early in the 4th but a Josh Hart 3 tied it, an RJ Barrett drive put NY ahead, and a Miles McBride 3 tied it at 93 after LA had gotten back ahead.

With the game tied 93-all with 9:26 left:

  • RJ Barrett hit a deuce to put NY up by 2,
  • RJ Barrett scored on a drive to put NY up 4,
  • RJ Barrett scored on a drive to put NY up 5,
  • Obi Toppin scored off a pass from Josh Hart to put NY up 7, and
  • Obi Toppin scored on a reverse slam off an RJ Barrett pass off a Hartenstein steal to put NY up 7 again, after Rui Hachimura had scored.

  • Randle and Immanuel Quickley reentered for Toppin and McBride with 5:41 left, and
  • RJ Barrett hit a 3 to put NY up by 10 — 106-96 — with 5:01 left.

The two teams flurried back and forth until another RJ Barrett drive put NY up 10 with 2:34 left — 110-100 — a drive that seemed to close the deal.

But it wasn’t a done deal — the Knicks missed 4 straight opportunities down court and the Lakers pulled to within 2, then fouled Josh Hart with 5 seconds left — hoping he’d miss at least one free throw to give them a chance to tie with a 3.

But Hart made both free throws to ice it.

Not quite heart-attack stuff for Knick fans watching at home, but a lot of agita.

2. Hartenstein was a Bull

During the whole 4th quarter run, and throughout the game — Isaiah Hartenstein was the key force inside for the Knicks — keeping Anthony Davis neutralized with big-body defense, while he dominated the boards, caused turnovers by blocking or tipping shots, and grabbed loose balls.

Mitchell Robinson had played well but was having a hard time bodying up against Davis, who faked Robinson off the dribble to drive past him on several occasions. Not so with Hartenstein in the game.

Anthony Davis was limited to 17 points on 8-18 shooting.

“I played terrible,” said Davis afterwards. “I couldn’t find my shot. Free throws. Layups. Everything. Guys did their job. I didn’t do my job tonight.”

3. Randle Carried the Knicks in 1st Half

Julius Randle started off on FIRE for the Knicks — scoring 18 points in the 1st quarter to shake off the prior game where he shot poorly and flipped out at a foul call at end of 3rd quarter. Randle was back playing like an All Star in this one — hitting his 3 and making power drives to the basket.

“Shooting the ball the way I did yesterday, I wanted to be a little bit more in attack mode and aggressive going to the basket,” said Randle afterwards.

Immanuel Quickley (15 points on 6-12 shooting) also had a good first half for NY.

4. DLo Carried Lakers

The Lakers were led early by D’Angelo Russell — recently re-acquired and it looks like a match made in heaven. Russell was hitting his 3 like a sniper in the first half, and leading the Lakers at the point.

“That one hurt for us,” said Russell afterwards. “We were battling, trying to do everything we could. Couldn’t get enough rebounds, enough stops. Making those shots just didn’t go our way, I guess. Can’t pinpoint anything, really. It’s tough.”

Russell finished with 33 points on 13-19 shooting (6-11 from 3) with 5 rebounds and 8 assists. The Knicks found a way to quiet him in the 2nd half — Miles McBride and Quentin Grimes rose to the challenge.

Austin Reeves (13 pts) and Dennis Schroder (14 pts) played well for the Lakers off the bench.

The Boxscore


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