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Knicks 106, Lakers 100: Scenes from a total team effort

Six Knicks in double-digits. That was satisfying.

Los Angeles Lakers v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Despite surrendering a 25-point lead and Russell Westbrook having a triple-double, the New York Knicks beat a LeBron-less Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday at the Garden. Your final score: 106-100.

The Knicks lacked the services of Mitchell Robinson (concussion protocol), Taj Gibson (groin), and Derrick Rose (ankle). For Los Angeles, LeBron James sat out due to suspension from the fracas in Detroit two nights ago. The benching cost James $288,263. Comparatively, Isaiah Stewart’s suspension cost him $45,201. It pays to be the king.

The game got off on the right foot. Two Evan Fournier 3s goosed New York to a 10-0 lead He would finish the half 4-6 from deep for 16 points.

The Knicks were scalding. Midway through quarter one, they had shot 7-11 from the field and 4-6 from three. RJ Barrett canned two early long balls, and Julius Randle was straight brawn against his original club, scoring 10 of New York’s first 28 and closing the half with a 14/11/4 stat line.

With 4:10 remaining in the first, Carmelo Anthony checked in to a standing ovation.

The lack of centers put pressure on Nerlens Noel, who has battled his own knee issue recently and got into foul trouble against the Bulls on Sunday. To compensate, Tom Thibodeau went with Randle at the 5 and Obi Toppin at 4 to close out the first. The Knicks finished the quarter up 36-20, going 7-14 from the field and 5-6 from deep, one of their best quarters of the season. More importantly, they were playing well on their home court, where their record had been 4-5.

The heat carried into the second quarter. The Knicks were swishing, dishing, driving, and styling. Check out this team effort leading to an Obi-One hoop:

After a 9-0 New York run, Satan’s own Reggie Miller said, “The Lakers defense absolutely stinks right now.” For once, we agreed. New York’s biggest lead of the half was 25 points.

This is the ball movement we thirst for…scope RJ’s bounce pass:

New York gets hot together and goes cold together. The shots stopped falling, the defense got laggardly. Five Knick turnovers in five minutes and a 16-4 run by the Lakers narrowed the score to 63-51 by intermission.

Both the Knicks and Lakers have been lousy third-quarter teams this season. Together they missed nine shots to start the frame. Avery Bradley, Russell Westbrook, and Davis closed the gap to 66-63.

RJ, Evan, and Julius found their inner resolve, however. For once, the ball flowed harmoniously between them. Rather than scoring, rebounding was the trouble tonight. By midway through the third, the Knicks had only three offensive rebounds to the Lakers’ 24 defensive boards. The Theraflu must have kicked in for AD, because he and DeAndre Jordan were unstoppable for stretches of the third.

“This might be his best shooting game of the season,” said Miller after Westbrook nailed a 3. Of course it was. Russ had 18 points in the third alone. The quarter ended with the Knicks clinging to an 83-81 lead.

Back and forth play continued in the fourth. Julius collected his fifth foul and a technical with nine minutes left in the game. Never fear, folks. His understudy Obi-One was in fine form.

Like clockwork, whenever the team started to falter, another Knick stepped up. After a slow start, Immanuel Quickley went 4-4 from deep in the fourth. He finished the night with 14 points.

Teamwork makes for winning basketball, kids.

At one point, Thibs had Alec Burks, Quickley, Fournier, Toppin, and Noel on the floor. And they looked great together.

Westbrook finished with a triple-double (31/13/10), and Davis played well for being sick (20/6/3). But Anthony had a lousy game, and Talen Horton-Tucker laid a goose egg. The game was close at the wire, with New York up 106-100 and 35 seconds remaining. Oddly, after two missed shots, the Lakers chose not to foul, rolled over, and died.

Fournier netted 32 points on opening night against the Celtics, but this might have been his best game of the season. He finished with 26/4/2. Randle had 20 points, 16 rebounds, and 5 assists. Six Knicks scored in double-digits. It’s hard to beat this team when they’re firing on all cylinders.

New York will play the Lakers again in February. I look forward to the rematch. After roasting your recap to perfection, Kento Kato will serve it hot with cranberry sauce and gravy. Until we meet again, Knickerbockers.