5 things we learned from Lakers’ 101-94 loss to Knicks

LOS ANGELES — With Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson back in the building, the Los Angeles Lakers came out flat from the start in a 101-94 loss to the New York Knicks.

New York held a 60-54 lead at the half, which they expanded to as much as 12 points in the third quarter.  Los Angeles shot just 33 percent from the field in the period, and also committed six turnovers. Despite that, the deficit remained at six points at 80-74 heading into the fourth quarter.

 The Knicks continued to have control of the game throughout the fourth quarter. However, the Lakers made a run late in the quarter cutting the deficit to 96-91 with a 3-pointer by Jordan Clarkson with 53.4 seconds left. Jason Smith quickly responded with a layup.

Los Angeles answered back with a corner 3-pointer by Jordan Hill that pulled them within 98-94 with 32.1 seconds left. Andrea Bargnani followed it by splitting a pair of free throws. On the ensuing possession, the Lakers sealed their fate with a missed handled rebound off Hill’s jumper.

It was a game that the Lakers had a sizable 51-33 advantage on the glass, and a 15-4 offensive rebound edge.  They had double-doubles from both Hill, who had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Tarik Black, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Jeremy Lin led the bench with 14 points and seven assists, but Los Angeles just couldn’t muster up a win.

For Lakers head coach Bryon Scott, the loss was all due to his team’s mentality, and came out “soft” to start the game.

“We just came in here selfish as a basketball team tonight,” Scott said. “I think a lot of guys came in here looking at New York as an easy win. ‘Let me get my points,’ which showed in our shooting percentage and lack of moving the ball. How many times did we come down with no pass and shot? We didn’t give them any respect and got exactly what we deserved.”

The Knicks had six players in double figures led by Tim Hardaway Jr.‘s 22 points off the bench that included going 5-of-7 from 3-point range. Bargnani had 16 points, and Alexey Shved had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

The Lakers had raced out to an early 15-9 lead in large part due to Hill making his first three shots of the game. They expanded their advantage to as much as eight points in the quarter, but the Knicks cut the deficit to two points at 19-17.  Jeremy Lin dished out four assists in the along with six points, and Los Angeles was able to edge out a 28-25 lead at quarters with a late jumper by Carlos Boozer.

In the second quarter, New York took control in a period that consisted of seven lead changes. Hardaway jr. led the Knicks with 12 points in the quarter all coming on three 3-pointers, and Bargnani also had nine points of 11 first-half points.

Hill four of his 11 points scored in the first half in the period, and rookie Jabari Brown, who made his NBA-debut, had seven points on 3-of-4 shooting through the first two quarters of play.

The Lakers fell to their 47th loss, and 22nd home loss of the season. Here are five things we learned on Thursday night:

Clarkson takes a step back

It was not the type of game that the 22-year-old had hoped as it was a quite forgettable night.

It was a rough start to the game for him picking up two early fouls in the first five minutes of the game, and he missed all three of his shot attempts in the opening quarter.

Clarkson struggled to get going for the next two quarters as he shoot 3-of-7, and wasn’t a major factor at all in the assist depart with just one helper over that span. Unlike the last two games, he struggled to find other ways to make an impact on the game.

His woes continued in the fourth quarter, outside of a 3-pointer with 53.4 seconds left that pulled his team within 96-91. Minus the one big shot in the quarter, It was a performance that Scott classified as a step back.

“Tonight I thought (Jordan Clarkson) went backwards a bit,” Scott said. “He was forcing things too much, and didn’t do a good job running the show. They sped him up, and he tried to do too many things. He’s a young player, and I think he fell into that trap of thinking about that offensive end of the floor than the defensive end.”

Scott also added that the game will be a learning experience for the rookie that will further show him that he must keep a good pace, and be more of a playmaker rather than trying to force shots. It was a performance that could be chalked up to being in his first year in the NBA. All in all, it was the type of game that Clarkson can learn a lot from moving forward.

Black continues to produce

In his third consecutive start, Black was once again a factor for the Lakers recording his second career double-double and first with the team by tying a career-high 11 rebounds along with chipping in 10 points.

He got the ball rolling early with four points and four rebounds in the first five minutes of the game. This included an impressive one-handed putback dunk off a missed jumper by Clarkson. Black also had another putback slam later in the quarter from a missed shot from Clarkson. 

He played limited minutes in the second quarter after picking up three foul but was able snag a pair of rebounds and two points, which gave him eight points and a team-high six rebounds in the first half.

Black continued to remain active on the glass in the second half grabbing five rebounds in 11 minutes played, but fouled out of the game.

“I’m still learning. It’s a part of my growth and maturation in this league ,” Black said. “But I will not stop playing hard because of fouls. I’ll say that as of right now. I don’t become one of those (players) that becomes passive because of them.”

Since being inserted into starting lineup, the 22-year-old  has been a source of reliability in rebounding and in the paint for putbacks and offensive rebounds. With five weeks left in the season, it will be more opportunities for him to continue to grow as a player.

3rd quarter problems

One of the biggest issues for the Lakers this season has been their play in third quarter, which entering the game they were allowing an NBA-worst 27.4 points in the period, according to Teamrankings.com.

Their struggles continued on Thursday as they shot just 33 percent from the field and committed six turnovers in the period. Los Angeles never got closer than five points in the quarter, and were unable to get any consistent offense going at any point.

The Lakers effort in the game was thoroughly exemplified through their overall porous play in the second half shooting just 34.1 percent from the field with nine turnover to just seven assists.

“I thought tonight that the Knicks always had a little bit of a cushion and we were never really able to break it open in terms of being down,” Lin said. “Every hit that we gave them they responded. We got punched first and that’s not a good position to be in when you’re trying to recover.”

Although it was a game that could be classified as loss due to a lack of aggressive, it doesn’t shield their lack of consistency in the third quarter this season.

It is often times the third quarter in a tight game that can shift the momentum one way or another, which was the case Thursday night. The Lakers just came out flat, and it turned a manageable deficit into one that seemed too much to overcome.

Jabari Brown makes NBA debut

The 21-year-old made his NBA debut on Thursday, and was productive posting seven points on 3-of-7 shooting with two rebounds, and one assist in 17 minutes played.

He checked into the game for the first time with 3:17 left in the first quarter, and immediately got going offensively with a drive to the basket on a fast break that earned a trip to the free throw line. A few possessions later he knocked down his first-career field goal with a long jumper on a pass from Lin.

Brown continued to show his offensive skills set in the second quarter with a floater, and followed it up with a turnaround jumper. He didn’t receive any action in the third quarter, but was on the floor to start the final quarter of play.

He had a nice lead pass in transition to Boozer for the layup  in the fourth quarter that cut the deficit to 83-78. However, Brown did miss two wide-open 3-point attempts that would of helped cut the deficit closer. His night ended when he was subbed out of the game at the 7:07 mark in the fourth quarter.

For Scott, he though that Brown’s performance was best on the team as he liked his aggressiveness on the floor in limited minutes.

“Out of all our guys, I thought Jabari played the best, I really did,” Scott said. “He moved the ball, shot it well, got to the free throw line and did a pretty good job defensively as well. I thought he did a pretty good job for being just kind of thrown in there for that many minutes.”

Brown stated after the game that it was one that he was nervous for as he prepared for it as any other game, and his play on the floor exuded that.

“I thought I picked my spots pretty well” Brown said. ” I got some good shots and shots were falling. I played pretty average on defense though.”

Overall, it was a productive performance for Brown in his first NBA game, one he felt that he needed improvement on the defensive end of the floor. Besides that, he showed much confidence on the floor, and was not afraid to take shots. Those are characteristics that could bode well for him moving forward. 

As Scott stated on Sunday night, Brown will get a lot of playing time over the next handful of games during his 10-day contract. It will give him the opportunity to show if he deserves another 10-day contract from the Lakers.

Fisher hopeful for Mamba’s return

In his first game as a head coach playing against the Lakers, Fisher was candid and open about his thoughts of being back in Los Angeles stating it is “re-energizing” to be back in the place he spent 12 1/2 years of his playing career.

“I think just the memories, the people, and the city,” Fisher said. “What we enjoyed and experienced you can’t replace. Now I am in this transition point in my career. (I am) not really trying to recreate that. My coaches, I and Phil (Jackson) have an understanding on how to get to that point where the organization can hang those banners up.

“It’s going to take some time, but just being back here re-energizes and reinvigorates the thought process on how we need to just keep going to get to the point want to get to.”

Fisher also talked about his former teammate and close friend Kobe Bryant, who he hopes to see be back on the court next season.

“I think for Kobe it first starts in the mind, Fisher said. “I would say he has that part pretty much figured out, and as long as you’re committed to coming back to the best you can be then what’s he will be. I don’t think he sees it any other way.”

Fisher also stated that he has maintained constant contact with Bryant this season, and in his mind there is no doubt that the 36-year-old is enjoying the daunting task of trying to come back for his 20th season.

“I think he is enjoying the process of having to relearn how to play a game in a different way, and how to accept the certain things in his life that he would of normally not of,” Fisher said. “He is a trail blazer, and it’s unfortunate that all good things come to an end. I am hopeful for at least another year we get the player on the court, and not just being out there off the court.”

However, above all else Fisher has enjoyed seeing Bryant being more open with the public, and display much growth as a person over the last couple of years.

“I’d hate to see what he is going through physically in terms of injuries,” Fisher said. “But I also been really excited and happy to see the development as a person and man. How much fun he is having and open he has been. He is really giving the people a feel of how he is beyond the game. That was the guy I hung out with for 12 1/2 years. It’s great to see him have fun on that side, but I want to see him back out there as soon as possible.”

Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

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Bob Garcia IV

Staff Writer at Sports Out West
Bob Garcia IV is a sports journalist from Southern California. He's currently the Los Angeles Lakers beat writer for Sports Out West. He is also currently covering the NBA and NFL for ClutchPoints. He was previously the beat writer for LA Rams Report for Scout.com, which is a website dedicated to covering the Rams. Lastly, he was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarciaivsports.


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