NEW YORK — The Los Angeles Lakers began Saturday night’s game with a fresh look — starting Rui Hachimura over Taurean Prince — and ended it with fierce defense to beat the Knicks 113-105, snapping New York’s nine-game winning streak.
The Lakers limited the Knicks to 19 points in the fourth — including just 10 points through the first 11 minutes, before New York started fouling to extend the game — to validate their upset over the Boston Celtics on Thursday with another strong effort.
“It’s great when the Knicks are winning and you get to come in here and play competitive basketball at the highest level,” said LeBron James, who led L.A. with 24 points and played all but 55 seconds of the second half. “Where every possession means something, especially in the fourth quarter. And to be able to make some plays in the fourth quarter to turn some tides.
“It’s something that feels great.”
Jalen Brunson paced the Knicks with 36 points but was held to just 4-for-9 shooting with two turnovers in the fourth quarter as L.A. repeatedly blitzed pick-and-rolls to send two defenders at him.
“I mean, they were just sending two defenders whenever there was any action that was happening,” Brunson said. “I was either trying to get around it or just hitting the roll man to make the play, relocating and finding a way to still be impactful. I think we made good plays throughout the game, just not enough.”
Anthony Davis, despite scoring only 12 points on 4-for-12 shooting, was all over the floor defensively, finishing with 18 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Two of those blocks came on the same Knicks possession late in the third quarter, when he swatted Josh Hart and then Brunson in a matter of seconds, igniting a fastbreak for the Lakers that ended with two free throws by Austin Reaves (22 points).
“Shot-blocking was a factor,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “AD played a great game without having a lot of points, LeBron the same. Those guys read the game. LeBron played 41 minutes. Credit to him, he’s in that type of shape. Davis is a load to deal with.”
The Lakers, who have concern that Jarred Vanderbilt’s right foot injury could cost him the rest of the season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, believe that consistent defensive effort even without Vanderbilt will give them the best chance to make a run late in the season.
“Honestly, losing one of our biggest defensive presences is tough, but guys got to step up and take the challenge,” Davis said. “I think any 1-on-1 matchup you got to take personal. That’s how you get better — take it personal.”
Hachimura had seven points on 3-for-5 shooting and four rebounds with the starters and Prince led L.A.’s bench scorers with 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting. It was one of 15 starting lineups that Lakers coach Darvin Ham has used this season and one that he hopes will stick from here on out.
“I’m hoping like crazy,” Ham said. “Out of those 15 different ones, it’s been three that have been deliberate and not [due to] unforeseen circumstances. So, yeah. That’s the definitely the plan.”
L.A. is 3-2 on its current six-game road trip and will close it out on Monday against the Charlotte Hornets.
“We’re just trying to get to a place where we’re playing the type of basketball we envision, the type of basketball we know we’re capable of,” Ham said. “And defend at a high, high level.”
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps contributed to this report.