Many people, including me, expected LeBron James to return today. That didn’t come to pass, and while that may have been initially disappointing for Lakers fans, their team stayed strong and gutted out a close 101-99 overtime victory that came down to the wire.
It took a huge three from Talen Horton-Tucker to finally sink the Knicks, who played with hustle and heart and just came up short.
Defense and rebounding were the keys to victory in the hard-fought game, and Andre Drummond showed Frank Vogel his value by scoring 16 points, grabbing 18 rebounds and blocking two shots.
Anthony Davis had a rough shooting night, going 8 of 23, and looked clearly fatigued and slightly banged up in the fourth quarter and overtime. He still had a pretty good stat line of 20 points, six rebounds, four assists and a steal.
The game’s hero ended up being Talen Horton-Tucker, the fearless young Lakers who was not afraid to take and make the three-pointer that sunk the Knicks. In what has been a troubled season for the Lakers, getting momentum heading into the play-in tournament is important.
They may have already accepted the fact that they’re going to be forced into the tournament, because they have to rely on winning their remaining games while also hoping that either the Mavericks or Blazers drop their last three games.
That’s going to be tough to rely on, but it’s been a weird enough season that you can’t completely discount it from happening.
You’ve got to feel for the Knicks, though. They were so close to getting a win, until a Wesley Matthews putback with seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter tied the game. Julius Randle had a great all-around game with 31 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. He sank the go-ahead three in the closing moments of the fourth, too, and he’ll be especially heartbroken about that putback from Matthews.
Derrick Rose continued to prove his value as well, putting up 27 points, six rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block. Tom Thibodeau seems to be the only one that can get the best out of the former MVP.
The Lakers’ focus will be clearing their remaining schedule, which is against the Rockets, Pacers, and Pelicans.