The day started with bad news for the Los Angeles Lakers. It ended in another tough loss.
The Lakers wilted late and lost to the New York Knicks 119-112 on Friday night, falling to 1-4 without injured superstar LeBron James. The loss came hours after the team announced James will miss at least another week with a groin injury.
New York closed the game on an 11-3 run over the final four minutes to snap an eight-game losing streak. After squandering an early 17-point lead, Kevin Knox hit two free throws to put the Knicks back up 110-109 with 3:45 left. They led the rest of the way for their first victory since Dec. 14.
“Every game is big in the West, plus we keep losing the same way,” said Lakers guard Lonzo Ball. “We get up in the fourth and keep giving it away. We got to change that.”
James remains out with a strained left groin. In a release Friday afternoon, the Lakers said he will continue to rest and be re-evaluated in one week. James will not travel with the team for games in Minnesota on Sunday and Dallas on Monday.
Second-leading scorer Kyle Kuzma also sat out Friday for the Lakers to rest a bruised back. New York took advantage of the absences and 16 turnovers by Los Angeles.
“We’re down some bodies, but we still got to stick together,” Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said. “We still got to trust each other and believe in each other.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. led the Knicks with a game-high 22 points. Trey Burke scored 16 off the bench, and fellow reserve Enes Kanter had 16 points and 15 rebounds, including eight key points in the fourth quarter. In all, the Knicks’ bench out-scored the Lakers’ reserves 55-31.
Brandon Ingram scored 21 points for the Lakers, and Caldwell-Pope added 19. JaVale McGee had 18 points and Ball 17.
New York used hot shooting to blitz Los Angeles early and take a 22-5 lead midway through the first quarter. The Knicks led by 15 early in the second before the Lakers rallied to pull within 63-59 at the break.
Los Angeles continued the turnaround in the third quarter and took a 92-86 lead into the final frame.
“They came out ready to play. We didn’t,” Ball said. “They got out to an early lead, and any time you do that, you got to waste a lot of energy to get back into the game. That’s not necessary if you come out ready to go.”
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