Lakers survive Knicks in large part thanks to Russell Westbrook

Jan 31, 2023; New York, New York, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook (0) controls the ball against New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 31, 2023; New York, New York, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook (0) controls the ball against New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

The Los Angeles Lakers played the second game of their back-to-back in the Big Apple against the New York Knicks. The Lake Show looked to bounce back after losing to the Brooklyn Nets 121-104 in a Kyrie Irving superstar masterclass.

The Lakers did welcome back their two superstars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who sat out of the Brooklyn game with foot issues.

There were other things in life to do like doing the laundry, the dishes, or mopping the floor during the first three quarters. Then the game turned into one of the more exciting games of the season in the final 12 minutes into overtime.

The Los Angeles Lakers used a huge 7-0 run and survived (Man, we mean survived!) the New York Knicks 129-123 in overtime. This is the first win on the road trip and was desperately needed to climb the Western Conference standings. They are still the 13th seed with no tiebreakers with the teams above them.

The good of the Los Angeles Lakers win: 

This was easily the best game for Rui Hachimura as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers!

Rui Hachimura showed exactly what he can bring to the Los Angeles Lakers long-term with his ability to cut to the basket, running lanes and especially in the post and mid-range. He was every efficient in the first half when both teams found it difficult to find an offensive rhythm good enough for an NBA fan to watch.

Rui finished with 19 points (8-12 shooting!) and 9 rebounds (3 offensive).

His huge block of Jalen Brunson’s layup in overtime basically sealed the game for the Lakers.

Darvin Ham is going to have to work harder on making Hachimura more available to implement his talents that are matchup nightmares for the opposition. What made Rui’s contributions so impressive was that he got these without plays run for him. If LeBron and AD want to coast during games (Just like this one!), give the guy some reps in the offense.

LeBron James made history…like again!

With all eyes on the all-time scoring list, it’s easy to forget that LeBron James was close to breaking into the top five all-time in assists as well. Scratch Mark Jackson and Steve Nash off the list and put them in the rear view mirror as LeBron is now fourth on the assist list.

He also messed around a had his sixth career triple-double in his career in Madison Square Garden with 28 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. Let’s be clear here, the Lakers needed all of this to win this game and the man delivered.

 Go thank Magic Johnson for letting Julius Randle walk away when LeBron James was signed. 

Film don’t lie…

Casuals look at box scores…purists watch games. The next time a Lakers fans complain about Randle putting up numbers in New York instead of for the Lakers, just remember this. Russell Westbrook made him look stupid all night long defending him in the post and capped it off by forcing Julius into a traveling violation in overtime.

It bears repeating…

The Los Angeles Lakers did not lose this game.

The first three quarters were bad offensively…but that last 12 minutes though…

Both teams came out on fire hitting their first six shots. Then the Knicks blinked with a Julius Randle brick from 3-point land that led to a perfect LeBron James lead pass to Rui Hachimura for a slam dunk.

After that, it was a slugfest that needed five more minutes to decide. Before this, it was 36 minutes of bad basketball with both teams taking ugly turns.

The bad of the Los Angeles Lakers win:

Did anyone fall asleep in the first half of this game?

The first half was one of the worst shooting halves of the NBA season. Bad shooting, turnovers, listless play, etc. Other than this crazy shot by Dennis Schroder at the buzzer, the highlights would have been a pile of bricks being dumped from YouTube. It was really that bad!

The funny thing is…how the score added up to be 53-52. It looked more like 15-14 in a little league YMCA game!

Max Christie got in foul trouble!

Interesting statement and mention in a post-game report right? This was the biggest “What if?” of the game. When he was in the game, he knocked down two shots from beyond the arc with absolutely no fear. But on the other end, he collected fouls like empty soda cans. He finished with 6 points, but man his shot was very pure on the release and he could have hit double figures if not for foul difficulties.

The Los Angeles Lakers were getting smoked by Jalen Brunson!

When the Knicks traded their first-round picks to open up space to sign Jalen Brunson, many people (Writer included!) rolled their eyes looking at the $117 million deal he signed in the offseason.

He deserves the money, especially looking at a wildly inconsistent duo of Julius Randle and R.J. Barrett playing in this game. His charge taken on Anthony Davis with four seconds left in regulation was huge.

Brunson finished with 37 points, 2 rebounds and 6 assists. He was the best player on the floor and it wasn’t even close.

The Lakers have to clean up their defensive boards.

The Knicks got 13 offensive rebounds that allowed them to catch up and force overtime. If the Knicks could pretend to hit outside shots, this could have been a loss.

The story of the Los Angeles Lakers win:

The closing lineup in overtime looked very good with Russell Westbrook closing out the game!

Enjoy the moment as it lasts because this is what the Lakers need in the future. Russ finished with 17 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals but he looked comfortable in the closing moments for the first time in quite awhile. LeBron, AD and Rui did the heavy lifting on the front line, but Russ’ handling Randle and hitting timely shots can’t be overlooked.