LeBron James couldn't be in the building. Anthony Davis almost wasn't.
With one superstar suspended and another sick, the Los Angeles Lakers already had big problems. Then they created one more for themselves by falling into a 25-point hole.
“We weren’t playing hard enough. Simple,” Russell Westbrook said.
They turned it around but the New York Knicks recovered, with Evan Fournier scoring 26 points and Immanuel Quickley adding 12 of his 14 in the fourth quarter for a 106-100 victory Tuesday night.
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Julius Randle added 20 points, 16 rebounds and five assists for the Knicks, but sat for eight minutes of the fourth quarter after picking up his fifth foul. Quickley made sure that didn't matter, hitting four 3-pointers in the period.
“He’s fearless,” Randle said.
Westbrook had 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, with 18 points in a sensational third quarter that helped Los Angeles tie the game. But with Carmelo Anthony's shot off in his old home, the Lakers never could take the lead.
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They beat Detroit on Sunday after overcoming a 17-point deficit in the game James was ejected from for striking Pistons center Isaiah Stewart in the face and drawing blood. The NBA suspended the superstar forward for one game.
But the best Los Angeles could do in this one was tie it twice after New York dominated most of the first two quarters.
“No team wants to come out down 10-0, but it’s a long game and we fought back and gave ourselves a chance,” Westbrook said.
Davis, who woke up with a fever, had 20 points on 7-for-17 shooting. He said he arrived only about 45 minutes before the game and didn't have his usual warmup.
“So I definitely think that he was a little bit drained and we used him differently,” coach Frank Vogel said. “We tried to keep him in seven-minute runs and he did not play in his normal rotation, so it probably had an impact.”
Anthony was just 3 of 14 for 12 points, and the Lakers lost for the fourth time in five games.
Randle went to the bench with his fifth foul with 9:18 remaining and was hit with a technical foul from there that allowed the Lakers to cut it to 90-87. But Obi Toppin scored before Quickley made a 3-pointer to push it back to eight, and it was back into double digits when another 3 by Quickley made it 105-93 with 4:58 to play.
“We were just trying to buy some time there and that group ended up going on a little bit of a run, so it allowed us to go a little bit longer (without Randle),” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.
The Knicks raced to a 10-0 lead that grew to 36-15 on RJ Barrett's 3-pointer with 1:11 left in the first quarter. It was 59-35 with under 5 minutes remaining in the half before the Lakers put together a 16-2 run that trimmed it to 61-51 just before the break.
“We can be really good man, we just have to trust how we play and when we have a way to play, just stay with it,” Fournier said.
The Lakers scored nine straight to open the third and cut it to 63-60, and finally tied it for the first time at 79 on Anthony's dunk.
Lakers: Anthony got a loud ovation when he checked in during the first quarter. ... Talen Horton-Tucker missed all eight shots in a scoreless outing.
Knicks: New York played without backup point guard Derrick Rose (sprained right ankle) and injured centers Mitchell Robinson and Taj Gibson. Thibodeau said Robinson, out with a concussion, is doing better but still has to clear the league’s protocols before he can return. ... New York has won nine of the last 11 meetings at home.
MISSING OUT ON MSG
Vogel called James one of the classiest players in the league who always plays the game the right way. He spoke with James, who was disappointed to miss a second straight visit to one of his favorite arenas. He was hurt last season when the Lakers played at Madison Square Garden.
“He wanted to play. I don’t want to get into it more than that,” Vogel said.
Lakers: Visit Indiana on Wednesday.
Knicks: Host Phoenix on Friday.