As if on cue, the Lakers began to dig another hole for themselves against the New York Knicks on Tuesday night.
And as if on cue, the Lakers then made a furious rally against the Knicks.
Two nights after erasing a 17-point deficit to defeat the Detroit Pistons, the Lakers found themselves trailing the Knicks by 25.
This time, though, the Lakers fell short, proving that this current trend is not a recipe for success.
“We have to have a better start the last two games,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We’re playing up hill and it makes things difficult.”
Four takeaways from the Lakers’ 106-100 loss to the Knicks:
1. It was 10-0 before the Lakers decided to play against the Knicks. The Lakers had missed their first three shots and turned the ball over three times.
It got worse from there, as the deficit ballooned to 54-29 in the second quarter.
Their defense was out of sorts. Their effort was lacking. Their energy was nowhere to be found.
And then, as if they hit a switch, the Lakers came roaring back and cut the Knicks’ lead to 12 at the half.
The Lakers eventually tied the game in the third quarter. They shot 46.2% from the field, making four of eight from three-point range and scoring 30 points, including 18 from Russell Westbrook. And they held the Knicks to 20 points on 31.6% shooting.
But playing that way, with so much extra energy to make up for the lack of it early on, took a toll on the Lakers in the final quarter.
They were just two for 11 from three-point range in the fourth and shot just 26.3% from the field.
They recognized how costly it was to play that way.
“Yeah, I mean, we were fighting and scrapping to get back into the game,” Avery Bradley said. “I feel like if we do a better job executing our game plan at the beginning, we won’t be in that position and we’ll be able to execute down the stretch.”
2. Talen Horton-Tucker’s struggles have continued.
He missed all eight of his shots, didn’t score and was a minus-18 in the plus-minus department.
He had gone four for 13 against the Pistons and zero for six against the Boston Celtics.
“Yeah, it’s tough,” Vogel said. “We tried using him as a point guard instead of [Rajon] Rondo tonight in the minutes that Russ was out. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it. … Two plays when he went to the basket early in the game and got fouled, OK? And ended up missing the shot because the whistle didn’t blow and sometimes that affects your confidence. I’m not sure. …Overall played a decent game, just didn’t finish. Just one of those nights for him. He’s going to be fine. We’ll look at the tape like we always do and learn from it.”
3. Bradley provided the Lakers with a lift, scoring 15 points on five-for-11 shooting.
“Avery is doing a great job on the defensive side,” Vogel said, “And we’re encouraging him to be aggressive on offense.”
4. The cheers came as soon as Carmelo Anthony checked into the game for the Lakers.
Obviously, the Knicks fans still adore Anthony and showed their appreciation for him and his six-plus seasons playing in New York.
But he was unable to deliver a masterpiece for them or the Lakers, missing 11 of his 14 shots and six of his eight three-pointers.
He completed his night with 12 points, but was a minus-nine.