The Lakers’ trip magic ended Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
But not before two of the league’s marquee franchises traded blows like the heavyweights they both hope to become again someday.
The Knicks beat the Lakers 113-109 in overtime. Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis scored 37 points to lead all scorers. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the Lakers with 24 points. With his family watching from their courtside seats, Lonzo Ball scored 17 points with eight rebounds and six assists in his New York City debut.
Kyle Kuzma scored 19 points off the bench of the Lakers, making eight of 17 shots. Lakers forward Brandon Ingram scored five points on two-for-12 shooting.
“You don’t use the excuse of being young, but some of those things are learned over time in this league,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “And I thought for the fact that Porzingis had the game that he did, and some of their bench players came in and had big nights as far as hitting big shots. Brandon, who’s been unbelievable for us, had an off scoring night. We were still right there says a lot about our group of guys and the way they compete and how far they’ve come to be in a road game with that type of environment on national TV.”
The Lakers fell to 10-16 while the Knicks improved to 14-13, with a 13-5 mark at home.
Despite taking a 10-point lead in the second quarter, the Lakers couldn’t hang on. By halftime their lead was down to one point, in part due to an 11-2 Knicks run. The Knicks led for much of the second half.
During one span in the third quarter, the Knicks and Lakers traded punches. Ball scored seven points in 67 seconds, once spiking the ball through the hoop off an alley-oop pass from Caldwell-Pope, then a three-pointer, then a layup. Each time Ball scored, the Knicks answered. In all, Ball scored 10 points in the third quarter alone.
“Just a lot of ball screens, being aggressive, and looking to score,” Ball said.
The Lakers trailed by five with 1:29 remaining in the game. A turnover by Ball seemed to spell their doom, but then they didn’t allow the Knicks another basket in regulation.
Kuzma sank a three-pointer in front of the Knicks bench to tie the game 99-99 with 23.9 seconds left in regulation. The Knicks went to Porzingis for the final shot, but with Caldwell-Pope guarding him, Porzingis’s off-balance shot didn’t fall.
“We were switching toward the end of that regulation,” Caldwell-Pope said. “I just wanted to crowd him and not let him get that rhythm shot. So I mean that kind of threw him off a little bit.”
That bought the Lakers a little bit of time, but in overtime, the Knicks outscored the Lakers 12-10. Knicks reserve Michael Beasley scored six points in overtime, making all three of his shots.
“We’re a young team,” Kuzma said. “Any opportunity to play the game at this level for us is definitely a building block but we don’t really like moral victories around here.”
The Lakers are now 2-1 on their four-game trip and will travel to Cleveland on Wednesday. Tuesday night’s game marked the first time during this trip that Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson attended. He sat courtside, two seats from New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr., not far from Knicks super fan Spike Lee.
“I think everybody notices when Magic is in the building,” Ball said. “Just his presence alone. Hopefully we made him proud. I know we didn’t get the win for him, but we’re taking the right steps.”