The Knicks went to the well again on their ensuing possession, but this time Smith heaved up a laborious desperation three-pointer that looked just about as easy as theoretical particle physics.
With little time reaming on the game clock, Pau once again made the game-changing play as he split the defense with a little help from a beautiful Steve Nash (16 Pts, 11 Ast) assist to extend the Lakers’ lead to 99-94 —too much for the Knicks to overcome with only 12 seconds remaining.
Absent from the floor during these final punches thrown by the NBA heavyweights was Tyson Chandler (6 Pts, 9 Reb), who fouled out on a questionable call with two minutes left. Chandler didn’t exactly light up the box score, but he did keep Dwight Howard (14 Pts, 4-8 shooting) in check on the offensive side of the ball.
The Knicks were snakebitten by the performance of embattled point guard Raymond Felton (10 Pts, 5-19 Fg), who has yet to have a field goal percentage higher than 50 percent since the Knicks victory over the Suns on December, 2nd. Felton’s struggles this month have disrupted the Knicks previously fluid pick-and-roll attack. With teams no longer fearing Felton’s ability to make a shot, defenses have become more comfortable guarding against the lob pass to Chandler. Felton may want to make it his New Years resolution to not jack up as many attempts on off-nights. During his current December downturn, Felton has only attempted less than 15 field goals once — and it resulted in a Knicks victory.
Perhaps most responsible for the Lakers’ victory this afternoon was Metta World Peace, who dropped 20 points and was bothering any Knick player that had possession in his vicinity. Steve Nash commented prior to the game that the Lakers “should be a desperate team right now.” This mentality was clearly taken to heart by World Peace, who looked more like a young Ron Artest all afternoon. That included a play in which his elbow knocked the Knicks’ three-point specialist Steve Novak out, and out of the game.
While the Knicks may have easily cruised to victory in their game against the Lakers earlier this December, Steve Nash’s return to the court gave Los Angelas a clear edge in the fourth quarter — especially contrasted to the point guard play of Felton during the final frame.
The loss dropped the Knicks to a 20-8 record as they close out the two games remaining on their west coast road trip (both against teams with losing records) to finish their 2012. While many players on the Knicks preformed admirably on the afternoon, Felton’s continued struggles earned him a lump of coal and a New York loss.