Knicks fall short on LeBron James’ historic night

LeBron James, New York Knicks

The New York Knicks had a poor start and a much worse finish as they became a footnote of LeBron James’ historic night.

James punctuated his first triple-double of the season and sealed the Los Angeles Lakers’ 129-123 win over the hard-luck Knicks with a layup in the final 19.4 seconds of the overtime Tuesday night in front of a star-studded sold-out Madison Square Garden.

Celebrities Michael J. Fox, Michael B. Jordan, Emma Stone and Chris Rock were part of the 19,812 fans who came to witness greatness on a historic night.

James finished with 28 points, giving him 38,299 for his career as he moves closer to overtaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) as the league’s all-time scoring leader.

“I’m going to do it,” James said of breaking the all-time scoring record that Abdul-Jabbar possessed since 1984, the year James was born. “It’s just a matter of time when I’m going to do it. I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to be in this league for at least a few more years.”

He added 11 assists and 10 rebounds as he became the first player in NBA history to log a triple-double in his 20th season. His ninth assist to a cutting Thomas Bryant also lifted him to no. 4 overall in the league’s all-time assists leaders, leapfrogging former Knick Mark Jackson and two-time MVP Steve Nash.

“And that’s just what I love to do,” James said, “to put the ball on time and on target with my guys going throughout the course of my career. They have to make the shots.”

“Anytime you’re linked with some of the greats — Mark Jackson played here, was drafted here by the Knicks — it’s a super cool thing and obviously, we know what [Steve] Nash was. I played against him for many, many years and his ability to pass the ball was very, very uncanny.”

But James and the Lakers had to earn it the hard way after the Knicks rallied from a poor start and a six-point deficit inside the final two minutes of regulation to force overtime.

The Knicks had a chance to steal the win after Anthony Davis committed an offensive foul with 4.5 seconds left. But Julius Randle was foiled by Davis and James at the buzzer.

James scored the first basket in overtime, and his 11th assist set up Dennis Schroder’s go-ahead triple with 3:14 left. A Davis dunk and a Russell Westbrook banked shot extended their lead to a 125-118 that sandwiched a perfectly timed block by Rui Hachimura on a Jalen Brunson layup.

Hachimura’s block was initially ruled as a goal tending but it was overturned after a video review.

Brunson led the Knicks with 37 points and six assists.

“[The Lakers] kinda just kicked our ass in the last 5 minutes,” Brunson said.

It wasn’t only in the overtime but also at the start of the game.

The Knicks missed 13 or their first 15 shots, falling behind by 10 early, 15-5. They were worse to end the game with two turnovers and missing five of their eight attempts that allowed the Lakes to escape.

Davis added 27 points and nine rebounds, while Hachimura had 19 and nine boards for the Lakers, who won just for the fifth time over their last 12 games.

The win also marked a triumphant return for James, who played in one of his favorite NBA arenas for the first time since 2020.

Randle registered his 32nd double-double this season, the third-most in the league, but he struggled from the field as he only hit 6 of 19 shots.

Immanuel Quickley came off the bench with 19 points and nine assists. New York coach Tom Thibodeau decided to finish with him instead of starter RJ Barrett.

Barrett, who finished with 13 points on 13 shots, played only 27 minutes and declined to talk to reporters after getting benched in the final 6:51 of regulation and overtime.

Isaiah Hartenstein had a season-high 16 points and 13 rebounds in 40 minutes off the bench in the loss that dropped the Knicks to 12-14 at home as they continued to be the only team among the top 10 in each conference with a losing home record.

At 27-25, the Knicks are now two games behind the sixth-seed Miami Heat (29-23), who will visit the Garden on Thursday.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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