Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images
Make that 4 straight on the road. Kristaps Porzingis poured in 26 points while Derrick Rose chipped in 25 to lead New York over the Los Angeles Lakers.
I was worried about this game. Despite L.A. being on a five game losing streak, the three-point shot is their bread n’ butter via gunners Lou Williams and Nick Young. With New York’s sub par perimeter defense, this could have easily been a trap game. But the Knicks got contributions from every player, most notably a huge bench spark from Brandon Jennings to finally pull away in the fourth.
A RESTED AND DEADLY ROSE: Missing two games with back spasms appears to have put Rose back into MVP form. His mid-range floaters were unguardable as he stormed out to a 10 point first quarter. Yes, he only had two assists. But when you’re scorching from the field (12/16), no one will complain. It was fitting that a Rose bucket iced the game.
A MONSTER ON BOTH ENDS: I think it’s safe to say Porzingis’ shooting slump is over. The “unicorn” wreaked havoc on the defensive by altering countless shots and serving 7 blocks. The paint was effectively closed, taking away much of Julius Randle’s effectiveness and forcing the Laker guards into long three pointers during the fourth.
How dominant was Porzingis? He is the first Knick since Patrick Ewing in 1997 to have 26 points, 12 boards and 7 blocks. KP was 8/15 from the field, including 3/4 from downtown. Not to mention, 7/9 from the free throw line.
JENNINGS’ 1ST WIN AT STAPLES: It’s hard to believe, but before tonight Brandon Jennings (19 points) had never won a game at Staples Center. That might account for his determination when the Knicks gave up a 12-2 run to start the fourth and fell behind 86-87. Melo, who finished 4/16 from the field, couldn’t buy a bucket. The Knicks needed a spark and Jennings obliged with back to back treys and a beautiful fast break with Courtney Lee for a three-point play. Although the Lakers remained competitive, they never regained any momentum.
TEAM EFFORT: 118 points, which equals a season high, is very impressive considering Melo only had 13 points. With Kyle O’Quinn out with a sprained ankle, Willy Hernangomez stepped up huge with 6 points and 12 boards. Courtney Lee added 16 points (3/4 from downtown), and Justin Holiday had 9 points.
Melo’s shot wasn’t there, but he still proved valuable in his 38 minutes. He delivered a season-high 7 assists, grabbed 8 boards, and gave the Knicks some breathing room with a bassline jumper over Luol Deng in crunch time.
The Knicks look to make it 3-0 on this West Coast swing against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.