National Basketball Association

Anthony Davis leads Los Angeles Lakers in gritty win vs. New York Knicks

May 12

Tuesday night's bicoastal battle in the NBA had an old-school playoff feel to it.

Defense was at the forefront, as the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the New York Knicks 101-99 in overtime for a big win for L.A. in terms of improving their playoff standing.

Both teams scored just 91 points apiece in regulation, the fewest combined total (182) scored in four quarters among Tuesday's slate of NBA games.

The Lakers shot 41.6% from the field in the game, while the Knicks clocked in at a 39.5% shooting clip.

In short, offense was at a premium for New York and Los Angeles from a team standpoint.

The Knicks did have Julius Randle go off for 31 points and Derrick Rose for 27, but none of their other teammates broke double figures. 

As for the Lakers, they spread the sugar around a bit more.

Kyle Kuzma led the way with 23 points, Anthony Davis dropped 20, and Andre Drummond hit for 16 points and a game-high 18 rebounds.

Defensively, the Lakers held the Knicks to just six points in the final seven minutes of regulation.

Davis hounded Randle down the stretch, setting the stage for Wesley Matthews to tie the game in the closing seconds of regulation.

And in overtime, Talen Horton-Tucker threw his cape on to score eight of Los Angeles' 10 points in the bonus frame, including the game-winner.

The win served as a big boost for Los Angeles' hopes to move up to the No. 6 seed and potentially avoid the play-in tournament.

Davis acknowledged as much in his postgame interview with "NBA on TNT."

"We're fighting to get into the playoffs and not play in the play-in," Davis said. "So, every game for us is crucial. … It's a big-time win for us. Big-time win."

If the Lakers win their three remaining games of the season, they could move ahead of either the Portland Trail Blazers or Dallas Mavericks, so long as one of those two teams goes 1-2 or worse to close out the regular season.

The Blazers will have to go through three of the West's top four seeds ⁠– the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets, in that order ⁠– to finish up the season.

The schedule is a bit more kind to the Mavs, with the New Orleans Pelicans, Toronto Raptors and Minnesota Timberwolves on the docket.

For Nick Wright of "First Things First," Davis was the star performer in the win, matching the intensity of the second-best defense in the league while still contributing offensively.

"Where Anthony Davis was great is where the Lakers have been great all year long, and that's on the defensive end."

Making the win more impressive for the Lakers is that they did it not only with their backs against the wall, but also did it without LeBron James.

"The King" was initially expected to return and face the Knicks after resting his ankle injury for four games, but that timeline was pushed back.

As Skip Bayless pointed out on Wednesday's episode of "Undisputed," avoiding a gritty battle with the hard-nosed Knicks might have been a strategic play from LeBron.

James reportedly was slated to return for the Lakers' clash against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night, but will be out of the lineup yet again.

It's Los Angeles' final home game of the regular season, and "Banner Night," in which they'll hang their 2020 championship banner.

James will be in attendance, and said he's "getting close."

There's cause for concern for the Lakers beyond LeBron's health, as Davis admitted to dealing with a groin ailment in his postgame news conference.

"I'm hurting," Davis said after Tuesday's win. "Not more so my body, just my groin got tight. That was really it. Not sure where it came from." 

"I'm not sure about tomorrow," Davis said. "I mean, I'm going to get treatment and see how I feel. I want to say I'm going to play, but it was really bothering me tonight. We'll see how I feel tomorrow, and then later on in the day."

Those fears from Tuesday came to fruition Wednesday when news came down prior to tipoff that Davis would also be absent for the contest.

While Wednesday will be a celebration with the hanging of the championship banner, uncertainty will also be hanging over the Lakers.

Whether or not they can not only get healthy, but also remain that way, will likely be a lingering question for as far as they advance in the postseason. 

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