Playing under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden for the first time in his career, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and the young Los Angeles Lakers rose to the occasion but fell to the New York Knicks, 113-109.
After the Lakers forced Kristaps Porzingis into a tough shot, Kuzma connected on a game-tying 3-pointer with just under 24 seconds remaining in the game. Porzingis missed a buzzer-beater but in overtime the Knicks pulled away by attacking Ball on the box.
Ball’s highlights included flushing down a one-handed slam dunk on a fast-break lob pass. That started a third-quarter stretch for Ball in which he scored seven consecutive points.
The dunk was followed by a 3-pointer on a pick-and-roll, and the same sequence led to a left-handed layup on the next trip down the floor.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton stuck with Ball during minutes that previously had been going to Jordan Clarkson off the bench. While Ball remained on the floor, he was forced to come out after bumping knees with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and limping through multiple possessions.
In an uptempo and entertaining, albeit at times sloppy game, the Lakers struggled to get enough stops on defense. They did force a turnover while trailing by four points with under a minute left in overtime, only to come up empty on their possession — a missed Caldwell-Pope 3-point attempt.
Porzingis scored 12 points in the first quarter, had 17 by halftime, and finished with a game-high 37. He was particularly effective from deep, connecting on 5-of-8 attempts. Michael Beasley (13 points) was one of three Knicks players off the bench to hit double-figures in scoring, and the team had six such players overall.
Caldwell-Pope led the Lakers with 22 points, followed by 17 from Ball. Kuzma led all bench scorers with 19 points, while also grabbing six rebounds. Ball dished out a team-high six assists, and was second among all Lakers with eight rebounds.
For as well as he’s played of late, Brandon Ingram seemingly disappeared against the Knicks. He missed all six of his shots in the first quarter and his first 10 before converting on a three-point play late in the third quarter.
Ingram finished the game with just five points on 2-for-12 shooting. Beyond missed shots, he didn’t attack the basket with the same aggression and mindset to score and turned the ball over five times.
The loss was the Lakers’ first of the four-game road trip, which concludes Thursday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
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