In today’s NBA, games seem to be in overtime, with both teams scoring well over 100 points. That was not the case on Tuesday. The match between the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers was one of the most entertaining games you’ll ever see. It went to overtime at 91-91, and when the dust settled at 101-99, it was the season’s second-lowest overtime game.
It didn’t make any difference. With a game-like putback that sent the game into overtime and some fantastic game shots, this game was tight all over the place. The Lakers won the season finale and improved to 39-30. The additional victory would have a significant impact on the standings, which is where we will start the most critical takeovers this evening.
The night’s number is six.
Laker’s win kept its hopes of advancing to the play-in round alive. With three relatively simple games on the schedule, they must now hope that the Portland Trail Blazers battle along the way. The Blazers are already one game ahead of the Lakers in the standings, but due to the tiebreaker, they will have to lose twice to No. 7. Fortunately for the Lakers, Portland’s final three opponents are the Jazz, Suns, and Nuggets. If the Lakers win their three games against the Rockets, Pacers, and Pelicans while Portland loses two or more, they will finish sixth.
Although the Lakers are attempting to make contact with No. 6, the Knicks are attempting to stop it. New York is now 38-31, tied for third with Atlanta and Miami, but this does not bode well for them. In a three-way tie, the tie is broken if one team wins the division. The Hawks are on their way to winning the South East division, pushing the Knicks into a head-to-head tiebreaker, which they will lose. You must lose several games in Miami and Atlanta in order for the top three teams in the Eastern Conference to spiral out of control.
The Hawks will be favourites in all three of their remaining games, but the Heat will not be. Tomorrow, they play the Philadelphia 76ers, and on Saturday, they play the Milwaukee Bucks. The Knicks will be back in business if they lose only one game.
Talen Horton-doing Tucker’s thing in big games now.
Before Tuesday’s game, Talen Horton-Tucker had only played eight minutes in crucial situations this season. Intuitively, it makes sense. Even if the Lakers maintained their commitment to finding him minutes, few teams would be comfortable sitting on the bench late in close games with a 20-year-old. They are far too prone to error. Horton-Tucker was also there. His popularity with non-Lakers fans was clearly based on his dominant pre-season results. Players from this period are less likely to be able to demonstrate their worth at higher stakes.
Tuesday was a high-stakes case, and although Horton-Tucker was fighting for most of the game, he delivered. Horton-Tucker scored eight of the Lakers’ ten points against the top five without his best teammate, including the game-winner, in overtime of a crucial seeding game.
Horton-Tucker actually had seven turnovers in this game. He can overdribble at times and has dangerous tunnel vision. He fires 3 points at a 26 percent rate. Both of these are legitimate critiques. Flashes like these, though, are extremely unusual for a 20-year-old. He is the first Lakers reserve to have multiple 10-point, 10-assist games on Tuesdays since the 1995-1996 season. Who was the most recent player to do so? Magic Johnson is a basketball player. He was a natural fit in the Lakers’ clutch at a young age. It seems to be Horton-Tucker most of the time.
Make way for Wes
Horton’s game-winning Tucker shot, but the Lakers won’t even go to overtime without Wesley Matthews’ biggest back of the season.
Matthews’ high-IQ plays are normal, but his minutes do not come late in games. In reality, Matthews struggled to remain in the rotation for the majority of the season due to a combination of roster turnover and poor play. In fact, when Anthony Davis returned, Matthews was benched in five of his first six games as the Lakers struggled to find enough minutes for everyone.
However, after Ben McLemore’s injury to a Laker and other perimeter players, Frank Vogel has focused more on Matthews. He played 33 minutes against the Suns on Sunday, his second-most of the season, as the Lakers outscored Phoenix by 13 points. On Tuesday, he played 24 minutes and the Lakers won by 14 points in a one-point game.
Horton-Tucker has shown flashes of stardom, but his numbers will likely make Matthews more competitive in the postseason. He’s a lot more stable. His shots are consistent with the other Laker ball dealers, he is a more powerful defender, and his IQ is simply higher, as shown by this putback. He’s already at the right place at the right time, assisting Horton-Tucker in winning the game in extra time.
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