LeBron James could not be in the building — and Anthony Davis almost was not. With one superstar suspended and another sick, the Los Angeles Lakers had big problems, and then they created one more for themselves by falling into a 25-point hole.
“We weren’t playing hard enough. Simple,” Russell Westbrook said.
They turned it around, but the New York Knicks recovered for a 106-100 victory on Tuesday.
The Knicks’ Evan Fournier scored 26 points, while Immanuel Quickley added 12 of his 14 in the fourth quarter.
While Julius Randle added 20 points, 16 rebounds and five assists for the Knicks, he sat for eight minutes of the fourth quarter after picking up his fifth foul.
However, Quickley made sure that it did not matter, hitting four three-pointers in the period.
“He’s fearless,” Randle said.
Westbrook had 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, with 18 points in a sensational third quarter that helped Los Angeles tie the game, but with Carmelo Anthony’s shot off, the Lakers never could take the lead.
On Sunday, the Lakers beat the Detroit Pistons after overcoming a 17-point deficit, but James was ejected from the game for striking Pistons center Isaiah Stewart in the face and drawing blood. The NBA suspended James for one game.
However, the best that Los Angeles could do on Tuesday was to tie the game twice after the Knicks dominated most of the first two quarters.
Davis — who was seven of 17 shots for 20 points — woke up with a fever, saying that he only arrived about 45 minutes before the game and did not have his usual warmup.
“So I definitely think that he was a little bit drained and we used him differently,” coach Frank Vogel said. “We tried to keep him in seven-minute runs and he did not play in his normal rotation, so it probably had an impact.”
Anthony was just three of 14 for 12 points, and the Lakers lost for the fourth time in five games.
Randle went to the bench with his fifth foul with 9 minutes, 18 seconds remaining and was hit with a technical foul from there, which allowed the Lakers to cut it to 90-87.
However, Obi Toppin scored before Quickley made a three-pointer to push it back to eight, and it was back into double digits when another three-pointer by Quickley made it 105-93 with 4:58 to play.
The Knicks raced to a 10-0 lead that grew to 36-15 on RJ Barrett’s three-pointer with 1:11 left in the first quarter.
It was 59-35 with less than 5 minutes remaining in the half, before the Lakers put together a 16-2 run that trimmed it to 61-51 just before the break.
“We can be really good, man. We just have to trust how we play and when we have a way to play, just stay with it,” Fournier said.
The Lakers opened the third quarter with nine straight to cut it to 63-60, and tied it for the first time at 79 on Anthony’s dunk.
Also on Tuesday, it was:
‧ Mavericks 112, Clippers 104
‧ Trail Blazers 119, Nuggets 100
‧ Heat 100, Pistons 92
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