The last time Brandon Jennings won a game in Los Angeles, he was in high school. Since then, he has come back to his hometown 12 times as an NBA player and, with a host of friends and family in the crowd at Staples Center, his team has lost every game. Be it against the Lakers or the Clippers, Jennings had been 0-12 in LA.
“It finally happened tonight,” Jennings said after he did all he could to make sure the Knicks would not make it 0-13. With Derrick Rose back in the lineup, Jennings returned to his reserve role and scored 15 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter.
The Knicks point guards produced 44 points in the game, as Rose had 25 points in 34 minutes.
What a difference it is to have talented point guards.
And speaking of point guards, would the Lakers stay with D’Angelo Russell if they had to do the 2015 NBA Draft over again? They took Russell with the No. 2 pick — and passed on bigs Jahlil Okafor and Kristaps Porzingis — and so far Russell has had a mercurial start to his career. He returned to the lineup last night after missing 11 games with a sore knee and went 1-for-8 with 3 points and five assists in 17 minutes. He also had four turnovers and certainly looked rusty.
Russell had been scoring well early in the season and is still young enough to have upside as an NBA talent, but right now Porzingis looks like the better pick. Wally Szczerbiak grilled me on the postgame show last night about my affinity for Russell’s game coming out of Ohio State. Guilty as charged. But two years later, it seems like a blessing the Knicks fell to the No. 4 spot in that draft and this wonderful Unicorn from Latvia appeared.
Last night, Porzingis broke out of his five-game shooting slump with a dominating performance with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 7 blocks in 39 minutes. He’s the first Knick player to put up at least 25-11-7 in a game since Patrick Ewing last did it in Jan. 1997. Ewing has done it 10 times in his career.
Carmelo Anthony had a tough night shooting the basketball (4-for-16), so he looked to be a passer throughout the game. Melo had a season-high 7 assists to go with his 13 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals.
The Knicks (14-10) moved into third place in the Eastern Conference with the win and improved their road record to 5-6. Jeff Hornacek wasn’t completely thrilled with the performance, as he joked about “holding the Lakers to 37 points in the fourth quarter” as a key to the win. The offense certainly has shown the ability to score, but the defense has routinely given back the big leads.
Hornacek’s Knicks are now 2-0 on this five-game West Coast trip, that continues Tuesday in Phoenix. We’ll have pregame coverage on Knicks Game Night at 8:30 p.m. for the 9 p.m. (ET) tip-off.