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Lakers can’t complete comeback, fall to Knicks on road

Lakers can’t complete comeback, fall to Knicks on road

NEW YORK — From a dead-legged start, the Lakers revved up quickly. Behind a charging Russell Westbrook, they even looked like they might steal a road game that began as a lopsided affair.

But big comebacks take up a lot of fuel. And by the finish on Tuesday night, the Lakers’ tank was empty.

In the end, the New York Knicks were able to hold on for a 106-100 win, and the Lakers, who never actually led despite their energetic comeback, fell to 9-10 overall and 1-3 on their first major road trip.

Westbrook provided the most spark of any Laker, finishing with 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for his fourth triple-double of the season. His sometimes maddening inconsistencies ironed out in the last three quarters of a game in which the Lakers ceded a 25-point lead to their hosts.

They needed someone to take charge. LeBron James served a one-game suspension from the previous game in Detroit, while Anthony Davis battled through flu-like symptoms to finish with 20 points and six rebounds.

But the Lakers could not close out: With the game still within reach at 99-93, the Lakers missed nine of their next 10 shots as the Knicks pushed their lead back to double digits.

Perimeter shooting was a difference-maker for New York, which shot 15 for 34 from 3-point range. Evan Fournier had six 3-pointers on his own, finishing with a team-best 26 points for the Knicks.

Davis was the Laker who was initially questionable, but the entire starting lineup looked under the weather during a miserable start. The Knicks scored 10 straight before the Lakers’ first point. A timeout changed little: The Knicks continued to bully them with Julius Randle (20 points, 16 rebounds, five assists) backing down into the paint, and a whole host of shooters burning up the 3-point line. After the first two minutes, the Lakers never got closer than nine points for the rest of the first half.

Many familiar problems cropped up, chief among them inattentive defense. There were slow switching onto shooters on screens. They were back-cut by Obi Toppin. They were beaten on the boards.

New York’s turnovers helped their guests get back in business: The Knicks had 14 turnovers, which resulted in 22 points for a suddenly tenacious Lakers transition attack.

The turnaround came during the period that has caused the most angst for the Lakers: the feared third quarter. But that was when Westbrook came alive, scoring 18 points everywhere from at the rim to the 3-point line. He preyed on the Knicks’ sense of comfort that had built up in the first half, maniacally streaking into passing lanes and unlocking the transition attack.

A 12-point New York lead at halftime kept dwindling. Finally, the Lakers erased it late in the third: Westbrook sent an outlet pass out to a streaking Carmelo Anthony, who got a warm Madison Square Garden reception when he tied it up at 79 with a dunk.

Anthony was just 3 of 14 for 12 points, and Talen Horton-Tucker missed all eight shots in a scoreless outing.

More to come on this story.

Press Enterprise