It was too much Julius Randall and too much Knicks’ defense for the Lakers to handle.
The Lakers (33-21) are the No. 1 defense statistic in the NBA – based on the most important number of defensive effectiveness in terms of points per 100 possessions. But Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks showed the Lakers Monday in the garden that sometimes numbers can lie.
Yes, it’s the Lakers Light, but Randall scored 34 points and the Knicks’ crushing defense made it difficult for the defending champions to win 111-96. It was Knicks’ third straight win to increase their record to 28-27.
Randall punished his former team the night RJ Barrett’s hot series ended. Randall, who played four seasons for the Lakers and left when LeBron James arrived, shot 1
Barrett was without a result in the first half and finished with only seven points, passing 2 of 11.
The Lakers are still without the injured Anthony Davis and James, who may be absent for another three weeks. But the Knicks caught 14 stolen and centered Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson combined for five blocks.
There were many Lakers fans in the pandemic crowd of 2,000 people with their T-shirts and noise. But the “MV-P” chants at the end of the fourth quarter were for Randle – not for James, an out with a strong strain on the hamstring.
Last Friday, Anthony Edwards’ best choice called the Knicks the toughest defense they’ve faced this season – better than the Lakers.
This is a mood that is growing. Before the match, Thibodeau said their defensive image had earned the league’s respect.
“Overall, it’s an important step for our team to start with our defense,” Thibodeau said before the game. “And we wanted it to be a big part of our foundation. And we hope that this is something you can count on every night, it’s your defense, your bounce, your speed. “
Randall, the former Lakers lottery player, hit his first four shots and scored 19 points in the first half. He was 7 of 11 off the field as the Knicks led 55-52 at halftime.
The already battered Lakers played with sick defender Dennis Schroeder, who will be a free agent this summer. Despite a pelvic injury, the worn-out Schroeder scored 16 points in the half with his dribble penetration and finished with 21 points. The Knicks are likely to have an interest in Schroder this summer.
Barrett was without a score in the first half, going 0 for 6, 0 for 2 of 3 points. Only Randall made a 3-point shot in the first half, but their defense was good enough to take the lead.
Knicks also received a productive game from defender Elfrid Payton, who fired up at the end of the half with his penetrating floaters and finished with 20 points to make up for Barrett’s absence.