LOS ANGELES — The Knicks staged a storybook in the first half, crumbled in the second half, rose from the dead to force overtime, and still lost Saturday in a rollercoaster contest against the Lakers.
RJ Barrett forced overtime with a spectacular 3-pointer with 8.3 seconds left and finished with a career-high 36 points, but the Lakers took the win, 122-115, at the new Crypto.com Arena.
The Knicks couldn’t steal the thunder of LeBron James’ triple-double comeback, even after overcoming a second-half nightmare. The Knicks turned icy in overtime – shooting just 2 for 11 – after Barrett, who finished with a game-high 36 points, brought them back from an eight-point deficit in the final minutes of regulation.
James, after missing the last five games with knee problems, returned for the nationally televised contest against the team he loves to torture and notched a triple-double – 29 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
After beating the Lakers in the first half while building a 21-point lead, with Julius Randle and Barrett dominating, the Knicks fell apart in the third quarter, when they were outscored 31-13.
But after falling behind by as much as eight points in the fourth quarter, the Knicks suddenly came to life. Malik Monk missed a jumper and the Knicks ran down, with Evan Fournier feeding Barrett, who drilled a 3-point tie, making it 111-111 with 8.7 seconds left.
With a chance to win it, James missed wide right on a jumper over Mitchell Robinson and the teams headed for OT.
The disappointing Lakers all had their Big 3 healthy and Anthony Davis was a beastly presence as he racked up 28 points and 16 rebounds. Monk crushed the Knicks for 29 points to make up for a missed game by Russell Westbrook (1 for 10).
It seemed to turn into a game-breaking victory and instead disintegrated into a huge disappointment for the Knicks due to all the promise they showed at the start of the contest five days before the trade deadline.
They lost five games of the season under the .500 mark at 24-29 as they began a decisive trip out West.
Randle finished with 32 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists. Randle had a shot at the rim blocked by Davis and another denied by James, but a foul was called.
The second-half slump was capped off when Davis stole a rebound from Robinson and dunked it for an 80-79 lead — the Lakers’ first — with 4:40 left in the third. That capped a 25-7 start in the second half.
The Knicks trailed 87-84 early in the fourth quarter after being routed 31-13 in the third.
After Westbrook made two free throws with less than a minute left in regulation, Alec Burks had a chance to bring the Knicks within a point, but missed a 3-pointer from the corner with 52.1 seconds to play.
It was painful with Randle cooling down and then falling into a baseline seated by a cameraman. Randle came in clutching his shoulder before shooting free throws. He then received a technical foul for shouting from the bench with 28.9 seconds left in the third quarter.
Randle and Barrett played fiercely in the explosive first half scoring 20 and 21 points respectively, but cooled off after intermission.
The Knicks reached a season high for first-quarter points with 41 points. They moved into a 71-56 halftime lead. They were leading 11-0 at the start and held on through the half.
Barrett was brilliant in the first quarter putting up 17 points, mixing it up with 3s and power, spinning drives.
Randle carried the Knicks in the second quarter, highlighted by a quick left dunk on Davis after a Westbrook turnover.
Randle finished the half with a 3-pointer after smoothing the field, watching his own bench and the Lakers bench.
James scored 15 points in the half and burned in the second period. But when the Lakers cut it to 10, the Knicks exploded on an 11-2 run.
Obi Toppin started the race with a quick hoop on a flight from Robinson. Barrett drove for a field goal, Randle hit a 3, and Lakers fans grew fractious when Westbrook completely missed the rim on a jumper, sparking boos inside the famous Figueroa Avenue arena.
Westbrook shot just 1 of 7 from the field to highlight the Lakers performance in the first half. The Knicks were on fire, going 9-for-20 on 3-pointers, but they still missed their free throws (14-for-21).
New York Post