Julius Randle Kristaps Porzingis
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Knicks let the Lakers score at will, early and often in what was one of their most disappointing performances of the year.

  • New York Knicks 107 (21-26)
  • LA Lakers 127 (17-29)
  • NBA, Final, Box Score
  • Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

Despite keeping up with them for the first three quarters, the Nw York Knicks ultimately lost steam on offense and the Los Angeles Lakers never looked back. Los Angeles scored 30 or more points in all four quarters. The Knicks went into the third quarter down eight, but it felt as if they were only managing to keep their heads above water.

Kristaps Porzingis got into early foul trouble and never really seemed to be a factor other than a couple stretches where he hit a few buckets. Tim Hardaway Jr. had another good night shooting the ball from deep, but it wasn’t enough to keep pace with the exuberant and sprightly Lakers.

In the fourth quarter, it was all purple and gold. They outscored the Knicks 30-18 in the period and did something that the Knicks have struggled with all season. They put a team away and left no doubt.

And again its one step forward, two steps back with the youthful Knicks. Following a great win in Utah, they fall to a depleted Lakers team without Lonzo Ball and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. This mirrors the uplifting win in Brooklyn which was followed by a lackluster and lazy performance against the Grizzlies in Memphis in which Marc Gasol and Mike Conley were out of the lineup with injuries.

Lakers Stepping Up

With key players out of their lineup, the Lakers needed other guys to step up and carry the load. Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson did just that. Randle and Clarkson accepted increased minutes, playing 37 and 38 minutes respectively.

Randle, although a bit out of control at times, was a force inside and dominated the Knicks. He scored 27 points, picked up 12 boards, and dished out five assists. Clarkson had a similar line of 29 points, six rebounds, and 10 assists. Both players shot the ball efficiently. Randle was 11-for-17 from the field while Clarkson held his own with a 12-for-19 night.

Despite only playing 15 minutes, Brook Lopez softened up the Knicks defense early. His newfound three-point shot killed the Knicks early and he finished with 14 points on 4-for-6 from deep.

The Knicks had no answer defensively for these guys. Kristaps Porzingis and Enes Kanter were late getting out to Lopez on the outside and Randle bullied them in the paint. On the perimeter, Clarkson could do whatever he wanted. He sliced and diced the Knicks defense with little to no resistance.

Expanding Lineups

Knicks Head Coach Jeff Hornacek, utilized every player on his bench tonight. After playing crucial crunchtime minutes in Utah, Trey Burke only played seven minutes against the Lakers. This was a bit of a head-scratcher considering the promise Burke showed late against the Jazz.

Even Willy Hernangomez saw some time on the floor today. Albeit, eight minutes of action with the second unit. Hernangomez has been stuck on the end of the bench for a majority of the season despite making the All-Rookie First Team for the 2015-2016 season.

Even Ron Baker saw 11 minutes of action in the Staples Center. The expanded rotations Hornacek is using may be due to the fact that they are in the midst of a long road trip and he’s trying to keep players fresh. But the Knicks playoff chances shrink with every loss and Hornacek may be experimenting with the hopes that someone, maybe Trey Burke, can be a spark.

Doesn’t Get Any Easier

This loss moved the Knicks back to a 2-2 record during this seven-game road trip. With a Tuesday night matchup in the Bay Area with the Warriors and a Thursday-Friday back-to-back, the Knicks are in danger of spiraling.

If the Knicks defense looked this bad against the Lakers, we can only imagine what’s going to happen on Tuesday against the Warriors. To be fair, despite their record, the Lakers have a top 10 offense in the league and they are averaging 106.6 points per game. But the Warriors are in another stratosphere offensively. Golden State is leading the league in offense and scoring upwards of 115 points per game.

A devastating loss like this, followed by a trip to play one of the best teams in NBA history could quickly snowball. That being said, they haven’t lost in Golden State yet. This Knicks team has shown that they have some fight and they don’t go away quietly. Maybe the Warriors are the perfect team to jump-start the Knicks second half of the year.

Ok, you’re right. That’s probably wishful thinking.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.