Knicks Dominate the Paint, Take Down Lakers

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The Lakers brought in a three-game winning streak and an opportunity to reach .500 for the first time this season, but fell to the Knicks 112-108 in a difficult loss that drops them to 33-35 on the season and into a four-way tie for the 9th seed with the Thunder, Jazz, and Pelicans.

D’Angelo Russell was great in the loss, leading the Lakers with 33 points on 13-19 shooting — including 6-11 from behind the arc — to go along with eight assists and five rebounds. Russell kept the Lakers in the game throughout, knocking down big shot after big shot to drive the team’s offense vs. a Knicks group eager to get a win to close out their road trip after losing their three previous games.

Beyond Russell, Anthony Davis played a strong two-way game with 17 points, 16 rebounds, and four assists, though he struggled with his normal efficiency going 8-18 from the field and 1-5 from the foul line. Without his normal level of shot making, Davis was more active on the offensive glass (six in total), but the Knicks were very good at battling him for position and were able to keep him from getting to his spots as often as he usually can.

On a night where Russell has it going, but Davis does not have his top-level game offensively, the team looked for support from their other perimeter players to mixed results. Rui Hachimura (12 points, 5-9 shooting), Austin Reaves (13 points, 4-6 shooting), and Dennis Schröder (14 points, 6-11 shooting) were all able to score efficiently and help provide some scoring punch off the bench. In the starting group, however, Troy Brown Jr. (3 points, 0-8 shooting) and Malik Beasley (10 points, 4-12 shooting) had more challenging evenings and couldn’t find their range from the field.

Even with the up-and-down nature of their offense and how that impacted the outcome, it was some of the team’s defensive challenges that were more difficult to overcome.

Julius Randle led New York with 33 points on 11-24 shooting, and was particularly good in the 1st half where he got things going in transition and was able to knock down his jumper consistently. Randle did an excellent job of taking defensive rebounds up court himself, challenging the Lakers defense to mark him in the open court, and winning many of those battles with strong drives directly to the front of the rim before the defense could get set and build a wall.

RJ Barrett was similarly great scoring 30 points of his own on mostly forays into the paint. Barrett shot 12-27 from the field, but almost all his success came in the paint where he shot 11-19 from the floor (while going 1-8 from outside the arc). Barrett did an excellent job of putting his head down to get to the paint in both transition and the halfcourt, bullying his way to the rim where he helped the Knicks amass their 56 points in the paint for the game.

Combine both Barrett and Randle’s push towards the rim with the Knicks securing 12 offensive rebounds for 14 second chance points while also getting to the foul line 21 times (making 17), and they leveraged their physicality to get a well-earned win on their end.

The Lakers, meanwhile, simply couldn’t get over the hump and just had some untimely and unfortunate miscues that cost them. Whether it was their inability to secure some of those aforementioned defensive rebounds, some of their transition defensive breakdowns, or their inability get a foul earlier after getting the game to within two points with just under 20 seconds left in the 4th quarter, there were just a few too many hurdles to clear and they couldn’t do it.

The Lakers will be back in action on Tuesday when they travel to New Orleans for the first game of a road back-to-back.