NEW YORK – The Los Angeles Lakers started Saturday night's game with a new look – starting Rui Hachimura at the expense of Taurean Prince – and finished with ferocious defense to defeat the Knicks 113-105, snapping New York's nine-game winning streak.
The Knicks, playing without Julius Randle, Ogie Anunoby and Quentin Grimes, led 86-80 after three quarters before Los Angeles' defense closed things out.
The Lakers reduced the Knicks' tally to 19 points in fourth place, including only 10 points during the first 11 minutes, before New York started making mistakes to extend the game, confirming its victory over the Boston Celtics on Thursday with another strong goal.
“It's great for the Knicks to win and to come out here and play competitive basketball at the highest level,” said LeBron James, who led Los Angeles with 24 points and played all but 55 seconds of the second half. “Where every possession means something, especially in the fourth quarter. And to be able to make some plays in the fourth quarter to turn some things around.
“It's a wonderful thing.”
Jalen Brunson paced the Knicks with 36 points but went just 4-for-9 shooting to commit two turnovers in the fourth quarter as Los Angeles repeatedly ran a pick-and-roll attack to send two defenders at it.
“I mean they would only send two defenders whenever there was any action going on,” Bronson said. “I was trying to get around it or just hit the pitching guy to complete the play, transition and find a way to still be effective. I thought we made good plays all game, but not enough.”
Anthony Davis, despite scoring just 12 points on 4-for-12 shooting, was all over the place defensively, finishing with 18 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Two of those saves came on the same Knicks possession late in the third quarter when he crushed Josh Hart and then Brunson within seconds, igniting a quick Lakers attack that ended with two free throws from Austin Reeves, who scored 22 points. .
“Shot blocking was one of the factors,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “AD played a great game without getting a lot of points; LeBron is the same. These guys read the game. LeBron played 41 minutes. Credit to him; he's in this type of shape. Davis is a burden to deal with.”
The Lakers, concerned that Jared Vanderbilt's right foot injury could cost them the rest of the season, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, believe a sustained defensive effort even without Vanderbilt will give them the best chance to make a late-season run.
“Honestly, losing one of our biggest defensive players is tough, but the players have to step up and accept the challenge,” Davis said. “I think any one-on-one match you have to take it personally. That's how you get better: Take it personally.”
Hachimura scored seven points on 3-for-5 shooting and four rebounds as a starter, and Prince led Los Angeles' leading scorers with 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting. It was one of 15 starting lineups Lakers coach Darvin Hamm used this season that he hopes will continue from here on out.
“I hope like crazy,” Hamm said. “Of those 15 different ones, three were intentional and unintentional [due to] Unforeseen circumstances. So yes. That's definitely the plan.”
Los Angeles is 3-2 on its six-game road trip and will conclude Monday against the Charlotte Hornets.
“We're just trying to get to a place where we're playing the kind of basketball we envision, the kind of basketball we know we're capable of,” Hamm said. “And the defense is at a high level.”
ESPN's Tim Bontemps contributed to this report.
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