Rapid Reaction: Lakers 127, Knicks 96

Disgraceful -- the one word most Knicks fans must have been thinking while watching Tuesday’s loss to the Lakers.

Facing essentially a must-win situation, the Knicks turned in an awful defensive performance in a 127-96 loss to a Los Angeles team without Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash or Pau Gasol.

Many have argued in recent days that this Lakers team might be the worst in franchise history.

But the Knicks made Mike D’Antoni’s club look like a title contender.

The Knicks allowed 51 points to the Lakers in the third quarter -- a franchise record for both the Lakers (points scored in a quarter) and New Yokr (points allowed). They also allowed 101 points through three quarters.

Xavier Henry led the Lakers off the bench with 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting. Nick Young also had 20 off the bench.

The Lakers' bench outscored the Knicks, 82-21. New York allowed the Lakers to shoot 57.8 percent from the floor and hit 18 of 28 3s. Wow.

Playoff push?: The Knicks fell three games behind the Atlanta Hawks in the race for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. They trail the Hawks by four games in the loss column with 11 games to play, which is an incredibly tough deficit to overcome.

They face tough tests in Phoenix and Golden State on this five-game trip. The schedule doesn’t get any easier on the back end, either.

Nine of the Knicks’ final 10 games are against above-.500 teams. Eight of those 10 games are against teams in playoff position. That’s what made Tuesday’s game against Los Angeles (24-46) so pivotal.

It will be very difficult for the Knicks to make up the deficit in April.

Thud in third: The Knicks were thoroughly embarrassed after halftime. They were down 25 points when Henry missed a free throw, got his own rebound and threw down a putback dunk and drew another foul. Not exactly the finest moment in the Knicks' 2013-14 season.

Melo fellow: Carmelo Anthony started the game 0-for-7 but finished with a game-high 29 points on 10-for-21 shooting. Anthony couldn’t do anything to stem the Lakers in the second quarter. Los Angeles opened the quarter on a 27-6 run.

Amar'e Stoudemire added 16 points on 7-for-14 shooting.

What’s next: The Knicks will play the Kings on Wednesday.

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