A Latvian sun rose in the east while a legendary light continued to set in the west. The Knicks defeated the Lakers 99-95, earning their first home win of 2015-16 while snapping a three-game losing streak.
The game was close throughout, appropriate for the drama of Kobe Bryant's pretty-probably-last MSG appearance. The script was Hollywood, but New York stole the show and the dub with a late-game 11-0 run. The Knicks had a couple big second-half runs, and those runs had something in common and those somethings were the uncommonly named, increasingly celebrated Langston Galloway and Kristaps Porzingis. A balanced Knick attack saw five players hit double figures, led by Carmelo Anthony's 24. Gallo, Robin Lopez, and forgiven-for-a-day Jose Calderon scored 14 each, with Porzingis netting 12 in 26 minutes of God-he's-effin'-FUN-to-watch! action. I wouldn't trade Kristaps for D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, and all the Jordan Clarksons in existence.
The Lakers shot poorly (41%) in the first half; the Knicks shot worse (35%). Despite the rough start, it always felt like a game the Knicks would pull out, in part because Lakers, but also because the Knicks were playing hard, moving the ball, energetic...they just weren't hitting shots. Carmelo was rebounding. He actively defended Kobe -- as active as defending can be with Kobe initially just launching three after three as if he was giving Time itself the finger. Kobe finished 2 of 10 from deep, 6 of 19 overall.
Even when the results weren't there, the Knicks were playing the right way, leading to 22 assists on 33 field goals.
Two minutes into the second half, L.A.'s lead grew to eight. Derek Fisher replaced Sasha Vujacic with Galloway and one 8-0 run later, the game was tied. Galloway hit a three late in the third to give New York the lead. There was something dare I say Starks-ian about Langston's game -- not just the clutch results, but even the little bounce-hop he took before hitting the dagger three late in the fourth. He was everywhere doing everything.
Fisher wasn't around by that point, ejected for the first time as Knick coach when he said something to the officials after Porzingis was called for fouling Kobe on a three. What did he say? What happened?
Porzingis, in foul trouble all night, came back with just under eight minutes left. He kept possessions alive, dove on the floor for loose balls, and hit a contested pull-up jumper over Roy Hibbert late. Galloway's late three put the Knicks up for good. There is light in the east.
- In the first half, especially the first quarter, nine guys were playing NBA basketball and Kobe was doing home run derby, swinging for the fences with increasingly audacious shots. This man is not going gently into the good night.
- Double-doubles for Lopez (14/13) and Porzingis (12/10). Anthony had eight rebounds. Hell, Calderon had five. There were some tough rebounds in this game. The Knicks got a good share of them.
- Hibbert must have seen Porzingis in that #6 jersey and had a flashback to his destruction of Tyson Chandler in the 2013 playoffs. 18, 10, and 2.
- Not Kyle O'Quinn's finest hour.
- A tough shooting night for Jerian Grant, but he had eight assists and only two turnovers. A big reason for optimism with the Knick rookies: both contribute even when they're not scoring.
- Julius Randle grabbed a defensive rebound, dribbled all the way up court to the free throw line, pulled up and drilled a jumper. He's a "louder" player than I thought; he's in like all the action. On one play Randle, defending Porzingis, gave him a bump, but Porzingis squared up and shot and you see the magic of being 7'3", where no one can bother your shot. On another play the two collided going for a rebound. Porzingis bumped off Randle like a bullet off Superman, losing his balance and stumbling, letting Randle beat him downcourt for a fast break dunk.
- Three times, minimum, D'Angelo Russell was dribbling up the floor, totally unbothered by any defender, and he'd suddenly come thisclose to picking up his dribble for no reason, then at the last moment decide not to. Some high dribbling that came close to double-dribbling.You can go weeks without seeing someone do that; Russell did it three times.
- A couple good defensive plays by Calderon in the third, including drawing a Pablo-esque charge on Lou Williams in the Laker backcourt, earned him his first cheers in a while.
- Mike Breen mentioned Derrick Williams is 10th on the Knicks in minutes but 2nd in free-throw attempts. 15 minutes, six free throws for D-Will, who also had a lovely assist to a cutting Carmelo.
- Porzingis does commit too many fouls, but they're generally fouls of aggression. Another good sign.
- I see a Knick big man wearing #1 and I think of Amar'e Stoudemire. This confusion is not helped by Kevin Seraphin putting up shots at a STATsian rate. It's like the ball hits his hands and he hears it ticking.
- Eleven Knicks played widespread minutes. Nobody more than 35. No Cleanthony Early, though.
- If you ever run into Nick Young, congratulate him on becoming the latest member of the All-Time Rex Chapman Team, comprised of players who seem deadlier when shooting from 40+ feet than inside 20.
- Another reason to start Galloway over Vujacic: it'd give the Knicks one of those old-timey cool single-digit jerseys starting lineups.
- Robin Lopez. Socks. That is all.
- A less celebrated possible Garden swan song: ex-Knick and ex-ex-Laker Metta World Peace, still bringing it on D, blocking Melo on a post-up, ripping Porzingis clean on the back-end of a give-and-go. Love Metta.
- Laker fans brought Kobe "MVP" chants, leading Knick fans to bust out the Carmelo MVP chants. Hibbert really must've felt like he'd gone back in time.
- Gotta give it up: whether their team's winning titles or lottery-bound, Laker fans bring it. The loudest road fans year in, year out at MSG, most def. Have been for decades.
"1-0 in the post-Derek FIsher era!" PabloBeSneakin wrote. Truth. A win is a win and a win's what this team needed and the win feels good. Next game is Tuesday in Toronto.