Sam SpiegelmanIf Tuesday night was a sign of things to come, the New York Knicks players should begin to clean out their lockers now.
Without the likes of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol or Steve Nash, the Los Angeles Lakers and Mike D’Antoni routed the Knicks 127-96 at the Staples Center, as new team president Phil Jackson watched from a birds-eye view.
Thanks a record-setting 51-point third quarter, Los Angeles stuck the dagger in the defenseless Knicks, handing the team a second straight loss and magnifying the importance of every game during the current West Coast swing.
“They executed their offense well,” Tyson Chandler said. “At this point, we have to get every game on the West Coach trip.”
The Knicks (29-42) opened the game strong, taking advantage from the perimeter with a 6-for-8 mark en route to an eight-point lead after the first quarter.
But Los Angeles roared back in the second. Led by Xavier Henry, the Lakers opened the second quarter on a 27-6 run to take back the lead. The team shot 11-of-13 from the field and a perfect 5-for-5 mark from beyond the during the run to take a 50-42 lead at the half.
After coughing the lead, the Knicks’ were seemingly crushed.
The Lakers dropped 51 points in the third quarter, a new franchise record for most points in a frame and the eighth-most points scored by any NBA team since the league’s merger. It also marked the worst defensive quarter by the Knicks, who allowed the team to go 19-for-26 from the field (73.1 percent).
“At the end of the day, it’s just individual pride,” J.R. Smith said. “You have to have pride in guarding your man, guarding the ball, and we just didn’t have that the last three quarters.”
“We held them to 14 points in the first quarter, and then that second and third quarter, all hell broke loose,” Coach Mike Woodson said. “We just didn’t have any answer for them from a defensive standpoint. I thought the plan was perfect starting the game, and when they went to their bench, they came out blazing and we just couldn’t control them.”
Henry finished with 22 points for a Lakers bench that totaled 82 points and outscored the Knicks starters by seven points. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 29 points but was limited to six in the first half.
The loss means the Knicks are destined for a losing record this season, just one year removed from earning the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Now the quest to overtake the Atlanta Hawks becomes all the more difficult, sitting three games back. And since the Knicks were blown out by a team with 24 wins, how will they fare against playoff-bound teams such as the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors which sit on the schedule ahead over the next week.