In front of a capacity crowd at Madison Square Garden, the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks squared off in what could have possibly been Kobe Bryant’s final game at the NBA’s most famous arena.
There was a lot of Lakers flavor within the 19,812 that were in attendance, as they came to cheer on their aging superstar. Unfortunately for those fans, the Lakers walked away with their sixth loss of the season, while the Knicks secured their first home win of the year.
After yet another slow start for Los Angeles, who went down 10-2 early on, the team regrouped and played the Knicks evenly throughout the rest of the afternoon.
Bryant started off hot, hitting the first three out of five attempts for seven first quarter points. He looked spry to begin the contest, looking to put on a show for the Garden crowd. Bryant finished with 18 points and three assists on 6 of 19 shooting, though, as his field goal percentage plummeted as the game progressed.
A standout for the Lakers today was Roy Hibbert. The big man notched his second double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 rebounds as he also collected two blocks and two assists in his spare time.
His counterpart, Robin Lopez, had his best game of the season, putting up his first double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds while adding four assists and a block as well. His early struggles have mainly been on the glass, as the 27-year-old center is averaging merely 4.2 rebounds per game.
On the flip side, rookie Kristaps Porzingis has stunned many with his play to begin the year. The Latvian recorded 12 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks in this contest, gathering his third double-double of the season.
The two teams were neck and neck for most of the game, as neither team possessed a double digit lead. After Metta World Peace knocked down a triple to put the Lakers ahead by six with over seven minutes left in the game, the Knicks responded with an 18-4 run while the Lakers went ice cold from the field, which essentially sealed the game.
In fact, after World Peace’s three, the Lakers went six minutes and 54 seconds without a field goal, executing inadequately down the stretch.
Carmelo Anthony scored a game-high 24 points and snatched eight rebounds to help his team snap their three-game losing streak. Jose Calderon finally found his stroke, pushing in 14 points on 50 percent shooting, but his backcourt mate Sasha Vujacic continued to squander, scoring just five points in 15 minutes.
Langston Galloway was enormous for the Knicks off the pine, pouring in 14 points on 5 of 9 shooting, including a crucial three-point bucket during the late stages of the game. He was also a plus-17 on the floor, which was the second highest plus-minus on the team behind Porzingis.
For L.A., Julius Randle found it difficult to score going up against the lengthy Porzingis, as the sophomore had six points on 3 of 12 shooting but did gather 11 rebounds and three assists.
Coach Byron Scott remained with the same 10-man rotation that he played in Brooklyn, and the results weren’t too bad, considering World Peace and Larry Nance Jr. played noticeably well. Nance had two points but six boards, while World Peace scored eight points and grabbed four boards.
Free-throw shooting was where the Knicks edged the Lakers, going a plus-10 from that area. The Lakers shot nearly 61 percent from the charity stripe, while the Knicks knocked down almost 83 percent of their freebees.
The five-game road trip continues for the Lakers in South Beach against the Miami Heat on Tuesday, November 10. Meanwhile, the Knicks head north of the border to clash against the surging Toronto Raptors on Tuesday as well.