The Los Angeles Lakers are still missing LeBron James and are without a point guard, but Talen Horton-Tucker came up big when the defending NBA champions needed it.
Horton-Tucker made the go-ahead 3-pointer with 21.1 seconds remaining in overtime, and the Lakers improved their hopes of avoiding the play-in tournament with a 101-99 victory over the New York Knicks on Tuesday night.
With James missing another game to get his sprained right ankle as healthy as possible and Alex Caruso departing early due to right foot soreness, Horton-Tucker had to step up and shoulder some of the responsibilities at point guard.
“He’s got big guts and he showed that with that shot,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “He had a young player type of night with good and bad plays. He kept his poise though and remained confident.”
Julius Randle’s 3-pointer with 1:11 left gave New York a 99-98 advantage. Derrick Rose stripped the ball from Horton-Tucker on the ensuing possession, but the Knicks were unable to take advantage when Randle was called for traveling.
In a game that saw 23 lead changes, Horton-Tucker made the most of his second chance, nailing a pullup 3-pointer with Rose guarding him. Horton-Tucker, a Chicago native, said earlier in the season that he grew up idolizing Rose as both went to the same high school.
“Not too many kids from Chicago can say they did that,” said Horton-Tucker, who scored seven of his 13 points in overtime.
After Boston lost to Miami earlier in the night, the Knicks were hoping to wrap up their first postseason berth since 2013, but will have to wait at least another game.
New York was outrebounded 51-39, which coach Tom Thibodeau said was the difference in the game. The game went into overtime after Wesley Matthews gathered in a rebound and laid it in with 3.1 seconds remaining after Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed a 3-pointer from the corner.
“Rebounding beat us tonight. All we had to do is get that last rebound — the last shot of the game. Everyone’s got to get a body on everyone,” Thibodeau said.
Kyle Kuzma, who missed Sunday’s game due to lower back tightness, led the Lakers with 23 points and Anthony Davis scored 20.
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Los Angeles (39-30) is one game behind Portland and Dallas for the sixth seed in the Western Conference with three games remaining in the regular season. The Lakers are hoping to have James back for the final stretch, beginning Wednesday against Houston.
“We know the position we are in. We are playing desperate. That is all we can do,” Davis said. “This win is a confidence booster for us. If LeBron comes back tomorrow, hopefully we can get him acclimated and back in the rhythm. We want him to get healthy and be ready for the playoffs.”
Randle had 31 points and Rose 27. New York, Atlanta and Miami are all tied at 38-31, but only the Heat have secured their spot in the top six of the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks had a 76-73 advantage going into the fourth quarter and scored nine of the first 11 points in the period to go up 85-75 with 7:39 remaining. The Lakers trailed by seven with 5 minutes left before going on a 9-2 run as Andre Drummond's layup off Caldwell-Pope's assist evened it at 89 with 1:56 to go.
Rose’s jumper with 1:37 remaining put the Knicks up by two, but they were unable to come away with points on their final three possessions.
The Knicks had a 42-40 advantage midway through the second quarter before the Lakers ran off nine straight points — including six by Kuzma — to go up 49-42 with 3:42 remaining. That was the largest lead by any team the first three quarters.
Knicks: New York was 3-3 on the road trip and was trying to win both of its games in LA for the first time since the 1996-97 season. ... Alec Burks (bruised left knee) and Immanuel Quickley (sprained left ankle) were out for the third straight game.
Lakers: Drummond (16 points, 18 rebounds) posted his 25th double-double this season, including his seventh since joining Los Angeles on March 28.
Knicks: Close the regular season with three straight home games, beginning Thursday against San Antonio.
Lakers: Host Houston on Wednesday. Los Angeles will unveil its 2019-20 championship banner before the game.