The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to get back into the win column as they enter the final stretch of their eight-game home-stand at Staples Center. Despite a rough game versus Cleveland, Jordan Clarkson and the talented young core for the Lakers have played extremely well up to this point as they seem to gain more and more confidence with each game.
Meanwhile, the New York Knicks find themselves short-handed with Kristaps Porzingis out with a stomach illness. The game will also be a reunion of sorts with Phil Jackson and former Laker Sasha Vujacic returning to the Staples Center in Kobe’s last game against the Knicks.
Both teams started off stagnant on offense as the Knicks scratched first with a hook shot from Robin Lopez before Kobe came back with a drive and finished at the rim. New York started to get some momentum going after an alley-oop from the La Mirada High School native Derrick Williams to take a quick 10-5 lead. The offensive woes continued for the Lakers until Julius Randle outpaced the Knicks defense for an easy layup to cut the Knicks lead to four. Things wouldn’t get much better for L.A. as the Knicks went on a 6-2 run to end the quarter up 18-11, a season-low for the Lakers in the first quarter this season.
The Knicks struck first again with a layup from Langston Galloway before the Lakers came back with easy buckets from Lou Willams and Brandon Bass to make it a 15-20 game. Both teams suddenly started to click on offense as they traded buckets midway through the second until Clarkson started to heat up with two straight buckets followed by a dunk off the steal to cut the Knicks lead, 25-21. New York came back with a 6-0 run to briefly extend their lead before D’Angelo Russell hit a three-pointer off the dish from Clarkson. After yet another run by the Knicks, Kobe went on a run of his own with consecutive buckets that hit nothing but the bottom of the net to make it a 33-39 game. But in usual game fashion, the Knicks ended the quarter with a 6-0 run to increase their lead, 46-35.
The second-half started much like the first as the Lakers continued to struggle on offense until they got two straight buckets from Clarkson and Randle three minutes into the second quarter. After a jumper from Jose Calderon, Roy Hibbert got aggressive on offense with the and-one fade-away to make it a 46-55 game. Carmelo Anthony started to heat up with a couple of buckets of his own to increase the lead before Brandon Bass answered back with a jumper to cut the Knicks lead to nine. The purple and gold kept on chipping away at the lead after a jumper from Marcelo Huertas brought them to within five as they ended the third quarter down, 65-60.
The Lakers managed to strike first, this time, thanks to a floater from Huertas followed by leaning jumper from Lou Williams. Los Angeles was then able to capitalize off some lackluster defense as Bass found himself open on the other end for the easy dunk to make it a 66-68 game. The Knicks finally got their first field goal of the quarter with a deep jumper from L.A. native Aaron Afflalo to extend the lead back to four. Carmelo looked to put an end to the Lakers momentum with an iso jumper over Larry Nance until Huertas was able to tie the game at 74 with an and-one. L.A. finally got their first lead of the game with a three from Sweet Lou on the assist from Huertas to make it 77-76. The momentum seemingly belonged to the Lakers after a turnaround jumper from Kobe, but ‘Melo was able to shoulder the load for New York with consecutive buckets to take an 86-85 lead with less than a minute to go. After a free-throw from Robin Lopez, Williams was able to tie it back up at 87 with a with a jumper. However, the Knicks prevailed, this time, thanks to a clutch three from Calderon to escape with the 90-87 lead.