Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Lakers 127, Knicks 96
By Dave McMenamin
LOS ANGELES -- The last time Phil Jackson was in the building at Staples Center for a game, Kobe Bryant made of point of playing a "clean game" -- free of any turnovers, unnecessary dribbling or wasted motion -- to make his former coach proud.
The Los Angeles Lakers played a game so clean Tuesday you could eat off of the court, and there were plenty of things the purple and gold, minus Bryant of course, did to make a basketball purist like Jackson proud.
Too bad he now roots for the New York Knicks, whom the Lakers throttled 127-96.
Yes, a lot has changed since Jackson was merely a guest of fiancee Jeanie Buss at Staples last April when the Lakers retired Shaquille O'Neal's jersey.
Now, Jackson and Buss are presidents on opposing teams. And while both franchises certainly have their questions to be answered, Buss didn't just have the better seat than Jackson -- sitting in the second row instead of up in a skybox like him -- she also had the better team.
How it happened: After looking sluggish and out of sync in the first quarter, shooting only 5-for-18 as a team and trailing by eight, the Lakers caught fire. L.A. outscored New York 36-20 in the second quarter (shooting 15-for-20 as a team) and 51-31 in the third (shooting 19-for-26) to blow the doors off a Knicks team that came into the game having won eight of their previous nine games.
What it means: Maybe that goal set by Nick Young and Pau Gasol to avoid being the worst team in Lakers history has some credence to it. They now must finish 7-5 in their final 12 games to eclipse the 1974-75 squad's all-time mark of futility -- a 30-52 record.
Hits:Xavier Henry, playing in his first game since being diagnosed with a torn ligament in his left (shooting) wrist, scored a team-high 22 points off the bench on 8-for-11 shooting.
Nick Young had 20 points and Kent Bazemore had 18, helping L.A.'s substitutes outscore New York's reserves 82-21.
The Lakers shot 18-for-28 on 3-pointers (64.3 percent), coming one shy of the franchise record for most 3s made in a game, set earlier this season against Sacramento.
Chris Kaman, playing for the first time in 10 games, had 13 points and nine rebounds.
Misses:Steve Nash did not play for the second straight game because of nerve root irritation in his right hamstring and Gasol also sat out the game because of lingering effects from a bout with vertigo over the weekend.
Stat of the game: 51. The Lakers set a franchise record for points in a quarter, outscoring the Knicks 51-31 in the third. The previous high was 49 set twice, March 19, 1972, against Golden State and Nov. 23, 1966, against Chicago.
Up next: The Lakers have a good chance to achieve only their second three-game win streak of the season -- and their first since November -- when they travel to Milwaukee to play the lowly 13-58 Bucks on Thursday. They follow that up with the second night of a back-to-back Friday in Minnesota, when Lakers fans will be paying extra attention to a certain big man who plays for the Timberwolves.