New York Knicks steal comeback victory over Lakers

New York Knicks Mario Hezonja (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
New York Knicks Mario Hezonja (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The New York Knicks came from behind in a late game-thriller to steal a win from Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, 124-123.

It’s not often that an early afternoon game produces down-to-the-wire thrills, but this St. Patrick’s Day matchup between the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers did just that today at Madison Square Garden.

Facing off against a slumping Lakers team led by LeBron James, the Knicks came into this game with an injury-depleted roster, with Dennis Smith Jr., Noah Vonleh and Frank Ntilikina sitting out today’s game. However, the Knicks did not let the shift in personnel stop them from coming out strong to start the game, putting up a season-high 41 points in the first quarter led by Kevin Knox and Damyean Dotson, who each contributed 13 points against a directionless Lakers team.

The Lakers came out in the 2nd quarter with a renewed vigor and change in personnel, led by impressive performances from Alex Caruso and Jonathan Williams. The Lakers pestered the Knicks on defense throughout the quarter, forcing turnovers and shutting down any offensive momentum the team had built until that point, taking a slim 66-63 lead going into halftime.

Turnovers and harassing defense would become the story of the third quarter, as the Lakers combination of defense and fast-break points saw them pull ahead to a 96-94 lead going into the 4th quarter, off the back of 20 turnovers by the Knicks. With neither team jumping out to a decisive lead, the 4th quarter seemed to be anyone’s game.

Lance Thomas came in early in the fourth quarter and gave the Knicks a quick shot in the arm, scoring seven points off the bench and playing hard-nosed defense to pull the team close as the Lakers began to pull away.

Today’s hero though, was undoubtedly Mario Hezonja. Matched up with Lebron James on his first start back from injury, LeBron’s 33-point performance may trick those that didn’t watch the game into thinking he had his way with Hezonja. But Super-Mario held his own with LeBron down the stretch, keeping LeBron to 4-for-15 shooting from the field in the fourth and blocking LeBron’sgame-winningg shot attempt with time winding down to seal the late victory.

With this home win the Knicks record goes to 14-56 on the season, snapping an eight-game losing streak ahead of tomorrow’s road game against the Toronto Raptors. Of note:

  • Neither Mitchell Robinson or Allonzo Trier had impressive games off the bench today, with Trier having an especially bad performance, going 2/5 from the field and fouling out after 15 minutes of play (including a flagrant-1 foul off an elbow to Alex Caruso’s face)
  • DeAndre Jordan had another almost-triple-double, playing tough defense on route to 15 points, 17 rebounds and 7 assists as Fizdale continues to utilize his impressive passing.
  • Kevin Knox had an impressive 19 points and 6 rebounds, and more importantly, did it efficiently off of 8-for-14 shooting. A good performance overshadowed by his teammates’ heroics.
  • Though Hezonja was the hero down the stretch, Mudiay and Dotson each ended the game with 27 and 25 points, respectively, capping off what has been a good run of scoring games for both players.

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The New York Knicks head up to Toronto to face the Toronto Raptors Monday, March 18, at the Scotiabank Arena.