It was a relatively tight one, but the New York Knicks — who came in winning five out of their last six games, were set to take on an L.A Lakers roster, who’ve had much of their their core players banged up.

Sophomore Guard D’Angelo Russell made his return to the Lakers’ lineup, after missing 11 games due to soreness in his right knee. However, head coach Luke Walton played it smart and dropped a minutes restriction for him, as he’ll continue to get back into game shape.

Nick Young (who was listed as questionable, and was a game-time decision) was also able to return from a lingering calf injury.

The Knicks have also dealt with a few injury-woes, also. They were able to get their former MVP going tonight, as Derrick Rose made his return from missing two games due to back spasms. And little did we know that he’d have his most efficient game of the season ahead of him. New York were also going to be without Kyle O’Quinn, who sufffered a high ankle sprain against Sacramento on Friday night.

After going 7-5 in their first fourteen games, L.A has dropped their previous five games, and were hoping to not extend that streak to six. But unfortunately for the team in purple-and-gold, the Knicks came away with the victory, and have now improved to 14-10 on the season, as L.A falls to 8-18.

FIRST HALF:

We had ourselves quite the shootout in last night’s matchup, as I predicted. Both teams are looking to revamp their respective franchises, and become consistent winners like they once were.

The Knicks began with a quick 6-0 lead over Los Angeles. Derrick Rose came out of the gates flying, making all five of his field-goals in the first quarter (including an outstanding block on D’Angelo Russell), with 10 to lead New York.

But it didn’t take long for the Lakers to answer, going on a 7-0 run with scores from their wing players, Luol Deng and Nick Young.

D’Angelo Russell wasn’t able to get much going in the first quarter. He played 8 scoreless minutes and was 0-5 form the field. It was even noted that he went back into the locker room for stretching, but was okay afterwards.

Lou Williams came into the game, as he’s been red-hot recently — averaging 32.2 points on 51% from the field, 45% from three, and 94% from the line in his last five games. He’s always been capable of putting up these kinds of numbers, but his consistency has always been a reason as to why he’s better off the pine. But unfortunately though, the Lakers lost all five of those outings despite these big performances.

Both teams continued to pile it on. With under two minutes remaining in the opening period, the Knicks were still on top, holding a 28-24 lead over Los Angeles.

We were able to see a good look at the number two-overall pick of the 2016 Draft, Brandon Ingram, as he went up against one of the league’s toughest covers Carmelo Anthony. For those who haven’t known, Ingram has been a backup for veteran Luol Deng, as he continues to put on muscle and develop into a more aggressive player:

New York was able to close the first quarter up 32-30, as Luol Deng led the Lakers with 8 points to keep them within striking distance. He also hit two three-pointers.

The second period began with 11-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony, matching his season-high assist total early in the quarter — with five in the half. He really didn’t have much of a choice but to pass, as he went 1-5 during this stretch. New York still held on, with a 35-32 lead with under 10 to play.

Porzingis was able to have himself a strong second quarter, as he scored eight along with 3-of-4 free-throws. He finished the half with 13.

The Lakers started to see the impact from Knicks’ rookie big-man Willy Hernangomez, who I really believe can become a solid starting Center in this league after a few seasons or so, once he develops his offensive game. But for now, he’s thriving quite well as New York’s defensive meat-bag off the bench:

Also can’t forget this kind of hustle and persistence that he brings on the glass:

Speaking of “glass,” the Lakers were getting dismantled on the glass early in th half, 22-15. They weren’t able to keep up, as New York was trying to pull away with a 49-42 lead. LA called timeout down 7 with 5:34 remaining.

The Lakers responded well though — as Nick (Should be in New York right now) Young continued his strong play. Finishing the second quarter with 12 points on 5-8 shooting:

I’ve been really impressed with Swaggy P this year, and you should as well. After a miserable ending to a season a player can have, he’s overcome those obstacles and is still in a Laker uniform, but playing his best basketball arguably since his days in Washington.

Derrick Rose still had a magnificent half, with 17 points on a blistering 8-9 FGs. The probing, attacking, aggresive Rose was available last night:

As the second quarter winded down, neither team was able to find a large edge against another. But Former Kentucky Forward Julius Randle had an incredible buzzer-beater to give him 11 points (along with six rebounds). The period ended with New York on top,  57-56. The Lakers had just barely out-scored the Knicks, 26-25 in the second.

Both teams combined for just five turnovers, but combined to shoot 5-21 from the three-point line in the half.

SECOND-HALF.

Derrick Rose answered during the half-time interview regarding his 17-point effort.

“That’s what I work on, just reading the defense.”

And he continued to do just that, picking right where he left off in the third quarter:

As the game was still close, Deng hit a turnaround jumper to give Los Angeles the lead, 63-64 with nine minutes to play in the third.

But what was really ruining it for the Lakers getting a huge advantage, was unfortunately D’Angelo, who committed three turnovers in a two-minute stretch. The Knicks capitalized:

Both teams were pretty sluggish in the third, combining for 12 turnovers. Although, the Lakers shot just 38% from the floor, and the defensive impact from Kristaps Porzingis was alive and well. He shut-off the paint with flour blocks in the quarter, and was eventually a feared presence inside:

Porzingis double-doubled in the quarter, while Rose and New York was able to find themselves up by a solid margin once again. The Knicks’ starting backcourt of Rose and Courtney Lee combined for 15, as Lee was 3-3 from the three-point line for nine points.

The third-quarter buzzer ended with a 84-75 lead heading into the fourth.

As the fourth began, the Lakers got a score from former Brooklyn Net Thomas Robinson, who has so much potential to become a solid-combo big.

After a score from Jordan Clarkson, the Lakers went on a quick 7-0 run to cut the NY lead to two, then Larry Nance Jr gave LA a one-point lead, 87-86 with 8:05 remaining.

Knicks reseve Point Guard Brandon Jennings erupted in the fourth quarter for 15 points on 3-3 shooting from deep:

Deng and Williams combined for 18 points in the fourth, but it ultimately wasn’t enough for the Lakers, as they just couldn’t defend New York down the stretch:

FINAL TAKEAWAYS:

  • Porzingis finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 blocks on 8-15 shooting.
  • Rose followed with 25 points on 12-16 shooting.
  • Anthony was horrible, shooting 4-16 from the floor for 13 points, but had 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals in an all around effort.
  • Williams led Los Angeles with 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, on 6-13 shooting, but was 2-7 from three and committed a game-high five turnovers.
  • Deng followed with 22 points with 5-8 threes. Added 5 rebounds and 2 steals.
  • Randle double-doubled with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists on 7-12 shooting. Young adds 15 and Clarkson adds 14.
  • D’Angelo Russell struggled wit 1-8 shooting for three points in his return from an 11 game absence.

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