For the first half on Saturday night, it looked as if LeBron James’ return would mean absolutely nothing for the Los Angeles Lakers. But thanks to James, Anthony Davis’ continued domination, and Malik Monk catching fire once again, the Lakers salvaged what could have been an awful performance.
James posted a triple-double, Davis dominated inside, and Monk sparked a second-half comeback as the Lakers defeated the New York Knicks 122-115 in overtime. The win improved the team’s record to 26-28, but initially, it looked as if the Lakers were going to have a new candidate for worst loss of the year.
The Knicks hit three straight 3-pointers to start the game and went ahead 11-0 early. They scored 42 points in the first quarter and 71 in the first half, leading by as many as 21. But Monk singlehandedly outscored the Knicks 18-to-13 in the third quarter and the Lakers went from down 15 at the half to ahead by three going to the fourth.
L.A. seemed to have things in hand, but multiple late misses at the free-throw line allowed the Knicks to fight back and an RJ Barrett three with 8.2 seconds left sent the game to overtime. But LeBron and Davis refused to allow the Lakers to come up short in the extra period.
In his first game back after missing five straight due to left knee soreness, James finished with 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists showing no signs of rust. He was helped mightily by Davis, who continues to show that he is still one of the best big men in the NBA. Davis finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds, four blocks, and three steals and has yet to disappoint since his return from injury.
The third star on this night, however, was Monk, who tied LeBron with a team-high 29 points while knocking down four 3-pointers. Monk maintained his starting spot with James returning as Avery Bradley came off the bench and it will be hard to take him out as he keeps producing at this level.
Unfortunately, it was a forgettable night for Russell Westbrook, who shot just 1-of-10 on his way to five points and six assists and was benched in overtime in favor of Talen Horton-Tucker. Trevor Ariza also had arguably his best game of the season with 11 points and eight rebounds in 35 minutes as he took on a bigger role with Carmelo Anthony out with a hamstring strain.
In his return to Los Angeles, Julius Randle finished with 32 points, 16 rebounds, and seven assists while Barrett led the Knicks with 36 points.
Next up for the Lakers
The Lakers get a couple of days off before hosting the NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night before turning around and heading to Portland to face the Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
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