Knicks Knock Out Depleted Lakers, 119-112, Fall to 1-4 Without LeBron James

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 22 points and the New York Knicks knocked out the shorthanded Lakers, 119-112, on Friday night at Staples Center.

The New York and Los Angeles rivalry wrote another chapter.

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 22 points and the New York Knicks knocked out the shorthanded Lakers, 119-112, on Friday night at Staples Center.

The Lakers were without LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, and Kyle Kuzma, and mounted a furious second half comeback before running out of gas for the second game in a row.

"We just need to do be better at closing the games out," said veteran Lance Stephenson who admitted he needs to take on more of leadership role in the wake of LeBron's absence. "It just comes down to the end of the game."

The Knicks delivered a knock down to the depleted Lakers in the first quarter, leading by as many as 17 points before the comeback commenced. 

"They definitely hit us in the face first," admitted Lakers forward Brandon Ingram of the sluggish start. "We know that can't happen. I think you can look at a team sometimes and think some nights are going to be easy."

The young Lakers came out of the locker room at halftime with furious energy, completing the comeback by the midway point of the third quarter, when they took their first lead of the game at 85-84 lead with just over two minutes remaining.

"We had a lack of energy in the first half," said Josh Hart. "We need to make sure we come out and punch first. We did that in the second half."

The frantic pace picked up in the fourth quarter as both teams took turns trading blows down the stretch. The lead changed nine different times in the final frame before the Knicks closed out the game on some sloppy mistakes by the Lake Show.

First, with 1:40 remaning in the game, and the Knicks up by five, Lakers guard Lonzo Ball was unable to inbound the ball and the team was called for a five-second violation, handing the ball back to New York.

"On the 5 second call I couldn't get the ball to anybody," admitted Ball. "I should have called a timeout."

Ball then made a bad pass a few seconds later in a four-point game that gave him a game-high six turnovers and all but sealed the loss for Los Angeles.

"On the last play, we just couldn't execute right. I got in the air and didn't have anywere to go," said Ball of the turnover. "I had too many turnovers. Too many things hurt us tonight."

Los Angeles committed 16 turnovers in the game, and New York finished with 12 steals compared to just four for the Lakers. Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball combined for 11 of those turnovers.

Los Angeles sent the Knicks to the free throw line 41 times in the game including 20 times in the fourth quarter.

"They shot 41 free throws tonight on the road," said a visibly frustrated Luke Walton after the loss. "That's a lot. We're turning the ball over and now we're at a deficit coming back on defense."

Ingram led the Lakers with 21 points, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 19 in a rare start at shooting guard.

"There's a lot of lessons to be learned from this," said Ingram following the game. "We haven't played a perfect game. We've lost focus. I don't want to pinpoint and say it's the fourth quarter, but it's the things that happen in between."

Michael Beasley returned to the team after the death of his mother, and played in his first game since a December 7 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. 

Against his former team, Beasley scored six points off the bench in 12 minutes of action.

New York had seven players in double-figures with starters Kevin Knox and Emmanuel Mudiay combining for 29 points, and Damyean Dotson, Enes Kanter, Trey Burke, and Mario Hezonja collecting 53 points combined off the bench.

"I think this is a confidence-booster," said Burke. "We've been in a lot of games, but it doesn't matter when you don't pull it out. ... That was putting together a complete second half. They went on a run, and we responded to it."

It was a tale of two locker rooms after the game, as the Lakers space was so sullen and quiet after the game you could hear yourself think.

Meanwhile, the Knicks locker room was loud and boisterous, as players applauded and cheered with their owner James Dolan after snapping an eight-game losing streak, earning their first win since Dec. 14th.

"When we win, we celebrate like it's a Super Bowl," joked Knicks coach David Fizdale. "Why not?"

The Lakers loss drops them to 1-4 without LeBron James as they sank into eighth place in the western conference.

"Obviously it's a different team without LeBron," admitted Fizdale.

Notes and Next 

Kyle Kuzma missed the game and was away from the team with a lower back contusion. LeBron James is not expected to travel with the team on their upcoming road trip and will be re-evaluated in a week with a strained left groin. Rajon Rondo also missed the contest with a torn ligament in his right hand. New York Knicks superfan Spike Lee caught the game courtside.

The Lakers will travel on a two-game road trip to Minnesota and Dallas. They square off with the Timberwolves on Sunday afternoon at 12:30PM PST. 

Highlights

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