Studs and Duds from Knicks’ impressive win over the Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) shoots the ball against New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) in the second half at Arena
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In a sensational showing, the New York Knicks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers on the road. New York played the best defense they have in over five games, earning a 114-109 victory. Julius Randle made it clear who the trendsetter was in a more physical outing and walked away with a victory. 

Studs: Julius Randle leads the Knicks to victory

In an incredible showing of moxie and tenacity, Julius Randle set the tone for what was a defensive masterclass from the New York Knicks. Scoring 27 points in the contest and accumulating 10 in the first quarter, Randle set the tone for expectations, and the rest of the rotation was fit to follow.

Adding 14 rebounds and with a +17 on the contest, neither Anthony Davis nor LeBron James could handle Randle, no matter how physical the game was. Per Steve Popper, “Julius Randle said he had to get four stitches in his lip at halftime.” 

The frustration from the Lakers could be understood in what was an embarrassment on their part, now 1-3 since the conclusion of the In-Season tournament. Raising a controversial banner in the pregame it was the New York Knicks, led by Julius Randle, taking the victory lap.

Studs: Jalen Brunson is bringing elite consistency to the floor

Averaging 29 points per game over his last five contests, Brunson has brought a consistency that puts him in “best point guard in the league” level conversations. Currently ranked 10th in points per, Brunson is also ranked first in three-point percentage per contest.

Against the Lakers, Brunson scored a team-high 29 points, adding 11 in the fourth quarter alone. A phenomenal showing once again, Jalen Brunson understands the winning mentality one must cultivate to be the most successful, and he hasn’t even peaked yet in the NBA. 

Studs: The Other Guys

Having great games from your pillars is key to success, but the daily grind, the commitment, and the professionalism given less media attention goes to the rest of the rotation.

Immanuel Quickley has taken his role in stride this season. He plays every game to his best, no matter the minutes allocated to him, and never complains because he knows how good he is. Quickley helped set the tone against the Lakers with 11 points in the first quarter and finishing with 20 in the game.

The conversation of “Quickley or Reaves” was answered easily as Quickely let the game come to him, and the latter found himself forcing looks and bartering free throws. 

In the frontcourt was a dynamic synergy between Isaiah Hartenstein and Julius Randle. The Hitman set a new season high with 17 rebounds and added nine points on 75% shooting from the floor.

Outrebounding the Lakers, Hartenstein and Randle together amassed 31 rebounds compared to Davis and James having only 25. The Lakers as a whole were out-rebounded by 11 total boards, and the physicality played was that of almost a tantrum by the Knicks opposition in this contest.

Studs: The Knicks’ defense gets back on track

In a turbulent outing, three Knicks players came out of the Lakers game differently than when they went in, but it was a win nonetheless. Holding the Lakers to only 109 on the scoreboard, these are the fewest points by a Knicks opponent since the Toronto Raptors on December 1st.

The Lakers shot 42% from the floor and 31% from three in a much more rugged affair. Julius Randle deserves all of the praise as his antics on both sides of the ball set the tone and won the game for the New York Knicks.

New York is ranked 30th this month of December in defensive ranking through eight games, but following this latest win, they look to get back to the old ways. 

Duds: RJ Batterr needs to find more consistency

As always, in meaningful wins, the list of duds isn’t that of a shopping list. RJ Barrett’s inconsistency and lack of assertiveness, however, must be a discourse by the Knicks.

In his fifth season, Barrett has had trouble stringing together elite performances offensively. This wouldn’t be so bad if Barrett was expected to come off the bench or contribute as a fifth option, but Barrett is supposed to be the bridge.

Both Brunson and Randle will fizzle out by the time playoffs arrive if the former can’t have stellar performances to give them much-needed breaks throughout the regular season. Since returning from migraines, Barrett has had seven performances of 15 points or less in 14 appearances. That is not the proper consistency of a third option in today’s NBA. 

Takeaways from the Knicks’ incredible road win over the Lakers

This win over the Lakers was incredible, but as previously mentioned, stringing together elite performances will enhance the Knicks’ confidence and their expectations as we approach the 41-game mark of the season.

With rumors of big names wanting to play for New York, this latest win can catapult the Knicks on a streak with tough games versus Milwaukee, OKC, and Orlando on the way. Wednesday night, the Knicks are back but in the Barclays Center to face the challenge of a young and hungry Brooklyn Nets squad. 

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