Kyle Kuzma fights for a rebound against the New York Knicks on Dec. 12, 2017.
(Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)

Lakers Fall in Overtime Showdown with Porzingis, Knicks

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

The Lakers had several players step up to force overtime. The Knicks had one Unicorn who completely took the game over.

Six Lakers scored a dozen points or more, but Kristaps “The Unicorn” Porzingis was the most dominant force on the floor, piling up 37 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks to lead New York’s 113-109 win.

The Lakers (10-16) had several tight defensive possessions on Porzingis that ended with him hitting a shot anyway. The 7-foot-3 top-10 scorer often just rose above his defender, striking from all across the floor, including on five 3-pointers.

Lonzo Ball (17 points, eight rebounds, six assists) said the Lakers expected Porzingis to score 25-plus points, but made it part of their game plan to make scoring as difficult as possible for him.

“We were just trying to make it as hard as we could for him,” Ball said. “But anytime you’re dealing with a dude who’s … 7’3 and can dribble and shoot, it’s pretty hard to guard.”

Despite Porzingis’ plentiful success, one of the Lakers’ biggest plays of the night came at his expense.

The Lakers had trimmed their deficit to three in the final minute of regulation when the Knicks (14-13) posted up Porzingis in one of his favorite spots.

However, Kyle Kuzma made it tough for Porzingis to catch the ball, and a timely double-team from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope resulted in a miss from the big man.

L.A. immediately bolted for a fast-break, with Caldwell-Pope passing to Brandon Ingram, who darted the ball back to Kuzma for the game-tying 3-pointer.

“It was just transition,” said Kuzma, who scored 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. “They didn’t get back and we had an advantage.”

Kuzma added a hook shot in overtime to tie the game with less than three minutes left, but the Lakers shot just 3-of-9 in the extra period.

New York quickly built its lead to six, led by Michael Beasley, who had six points, an assist and a steal in overtime to seal his team’s win.

While the Lakers had ground their way back into the game, the consensus among the players and coach Luke Walton was that they should have been in control the entire way.

Instead, a game with 20 lead changes and 17 ties was largely governed by the two-way play of Porzingis, who made scoring in the paint difficult for the Lakers’ drive-heavy offense.

Brandon Ingram was the the player affected most. He entered the night on an 11-game double-digit scoring streak, but finished with just five points on 2-of-12 shooting.

He still contributed with seven rebounds and five assists, but also had five turnovers.

Meanwhile, Caldwell-Pope led the Lakers with 24 points, but his shooting tailed off in the second half, as he finished with an 8-of-20 clip, including 4-of-14 from 3-point range.

The Lakers did, however, get an encouraging burst from Ball, who hit his stride in a third-quarter scoring duel with Porzingis.

During this frame, Ball piled up 10 points with pairs of assists and steals, as Walton said the 20-year-old “gave us everything tonight.”

Ball made a sagging defense pay with two triples, and attacked the hoop with a lefty layup and fast-break alley-oop slam.

“He was just playing basketball,” Walton said. “We’ve seen that before out of him. He does that at practice when we scrimmage. We know that that’s more of the type of player that he is, at least offensively (with) the way he can shoot the ball and get to the rim.”

Touch the sky

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Brook Lopez (14 points), Julius Randle (13) and Jordan Clarkson (12) scored in double figures. … New York had solid performances from Enes Kanter (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Jarrett Jack (10 assists). … A crowd of 19,359 — including Jeanie Buss, Magic Johnson, Spike Lee and Odell Beckham Jr. — was on hand at Madison Square Garden.

@MagicJohnson catches up with @OBJ courtside.

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