new york knicks
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The New York Knicks went for their third straight win against a Los Angeles Lakers team that was without LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

The New York Knicks had every reason to be riding high entering Monday night’s home tilt with the Los Angeles Lakers. The team was less than 24 hours removed from a gritty fourth-quarter comeback against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. New York was also still riding high from Friday’s stellar overtime win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

But the Lakers were a different type of challenger. After all, they’re the NBA’s defending champions. Though without stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, they’re still the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference.

Even so, what even are the Lakers without those two? Imagine winning a lunch with the Avengers, but you learn you’re only meeting Hawkeye and War Machine. No Iron Man, no Captain America, not even Thor or the Incredible Hulk!

Long story short, the New York Knicks were in a position to show the Lakers why the Big Apple’s bodega coffee and dirty water dogs would always be superior to LA’s gross kale smoothies. Oh, and did we mention Julius Randle was drafted by the Lakers in 2013 and they basically tossed him aside a few years later?

The stage was set for a bicoastal rivalry. Let’s begin.


1st quarter: East vs. West

The first quarter featured a 10-0 run by the New York Knicks, but was otherwise a traditional East Coast vs. West Coast battle. Baskets were traded and some hard fouls were committed. Biggie and Tupac would be so proud!

Julius Randle led the Knicks with 13 points against his former team, but the rest of his fellow Knicks struggled. Neither Reggie Bullock nor RJ Barrett scored in the first quarter as the Lakers led 28-26 at the buzzer.

The key difference in this otherwise close matchup was the Lakers made half their attempts from three in the first. New York, unfortunately, struggled to a 1 of 5 start from long range.

Still, the stage was set for the Knicks to keep the game close.



Halftime report: Welcome to Knicks Country

The second quarter proved interesting as the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers headed to halftime. New York opened on a 12-2 run, only to see the Lakers go on a fast-paced 11-0 run right after. Tom Thibodeau hated the Knicks’ defense enough to call some timeouts so the team could reset.

It took a while, but the Knicks came alive in the last two minutes before halftime. Elfrid Payton scored eight points in that stretch and Randle hit a well-timed stepback jumper with seconds remaining.

New York led 55-52 at the half and the Lakers knew for sure that Madison Square Garden was not friendly ground. Even so, Barrett still hadn’t scored and the Knicks still shot just 1 of 11 from three.



3rd quarter: Welcome to New York

The third quarter was a prime example of just how different the Los Angeles Lakers are without LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Knicks closed on an 11-4 run and they did it with good old-fashioned team basketball.

Barrett finally got on the board and so did Reggie Bullock. The signature New York Knicks defense forced seven Lakers turnovers in the third. The Knicks continued to own LA on the boards.

Now, they just had to close the game.



4th quarter: Go New York Go


The New York Knicks didn’t let a little 10-0 Lakers run faze them in the fourth quarter. They just answered with a 10-2 run of their own to ice their third straight win after losing five of six.

Julius Randle continued his MVP season. Even Elfrid Payton looked great with 20 points on 12 shots. On the defensive side, the Knicks forced 24 turnovers and out-rebounded the Los Angeles Lakers 47-33.

It was a statement win from a scrappy team, even if the defending champions were without their two best players. In the end, New York won out 111-96.



Player of the Game: Julius Randle

The MVP candidate absolutely torched his former team, dropping 34 points with 10 rebounds.



Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.