The Los Angeles Lakers completed a massive 21-point comeback on Saturday night against the New York Knicks. Trailing 68-47 in the second quarter, L.A. stormed back behind another incredible night from Anthony Davis, winning in overtime to inch closer to .500.
Frank Vogel — long known for his defensive prowess as a coach — saw his team ramp up the intensity in the second half. After giving up 71 points in the first 24 minutes, the Knicks managed just 44 points after halftime, including the overtime period.
Vogel did not credit any sort of massive adjustment to their defensive game plan. Rather, he credited L.A. for stepping up the execution on both ends of the floor. “We didn’t make a whole lot of defensive adjustments. We just cleaned up some things that we weren’t doing well early,” Vogel said of the second half. “I think one of our biggest problems we were having some bad offensive possessions that they got out on a break.
“Every time we had a miscue offensively, they hit a three on the other end. Those turnovers with touchdowns will kill you but we’re a bullseye team. We get everybody’s best punch. We’re the Lakers, we got star-power all that stuff and sometimes teams are going to come in and make all their shots in the first quarter and give us their best punch.
“The Knicks played great; give them credit,” Vogel continued. “But when that happens, we have the mindset that ‘OK the first quarter was the first quarter,’ we got to lock down. Each quarter after that has to get better. Second’s got to be better that the first, third’s got to be better than the second, fourth’s got to be better than the third. For the most part, the defense was much better in the final three quarters.”
Each quarter certainly got better after an abysmal effort in the first frame. The Lakers trailed 11-0, 21-6, and 34-16 at various points in the first quarter, while trailing 42-29 when the buzzer sounded.
The Knicks came out the stronger and more prepared team, which is what Davis said was the key to their comeback following the victory. “Play defense. We weren’t playing any type of defense. We weren’t physical, they were the more physical team. They were playing harder than us. We need to stop doing that, digging ourselves into a hole.
“But we were able- Malik was able to win that third quarter for us alone. Then we just fed off of him going into the fourth and going into overtime. We need to do a better job of not digging ourselves into a hole but just took it upon ourselves to actually play defense. Cuts some guys water off and not give them a lot of open looks.”
While Davis rightfully credited Malik Monk — who played a phenomenal game with 29 points — it was the big man who was especially dominant. Davis finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds, three steals, and four blocks in what was a two-way masterpiece.
It was the combination of Davis, Monk, and LeBron James that allowed the Lakers to storm back and continue fighting through the overtime period.
Defensively, the goal needs to be to come out strong in the first quarter rather than waiting until halftime. If L.A. can figure out a way to make that happen, they should be able to find some momentum in the second half of the season.
Davis takes ownership for lackluster play earlier in 2021-22 season
Since returning from a sprained MCL, Davis has been a dominant force for the Lakers. Following another incredible performance, he admitted that he did not help the team as much as he could prior to the injury.
“Yes and no. Obviously I knew even though the numbers were kind of there, I didn’t feel like myself, wasn’t helping the team as much as I could have to win basketball games earlier in the year and I take ownership of that,” Davis said.
“And when the knee injury happened, I was able to step away from the game and just evaluate myself. Not looking at other guys and what they could be doing, looking at myself in the mirror. I need to bring energy on the defensive end and I kind of just took it upon myself to do since the return.
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