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LOS ANGELES — The Knicks’ playoff-clinching celebration will have to wait.
In a Hollywood heartbreaker, the Knicks blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead and the defending-champion Lakers showed their mettle by surviving a 101-99 overtime battle at Staples Center on Tuesday night.
The Knicks had the game and the playoffs in the bag but couldn’t hold off these Lakers, even with LeBron James watching from the bench.
Talen Horton-Tucker, who went to the same Chicago high school as Derrick Rose, hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 15 seconds left in overtime to win it and keep the Knicks’ magic number at 1.
The Knicks couldn’t get off a good shot on the last possession as a struggling RJ Barrett had to fire a 40-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Julius Randle punished his former team with 31 points and Rose scored 27 points off the bench and had a late steal in OT that looked to be the clincher.
It wasn’t. Randle hit a big 3-pointer with 1:10 left to give the Knicks the lead but they couldn’t hold on. Ultimately, the Knicks couldn’t survive an awful night from Barrett (2 of 13, 0 of 7 on 3-pointers).
The Knicks blew that 10-point fourth-quarter lead yet rallied from five down in OT. But they couldn’t close it. They finish the rigorous six-game Western trip at 3-3.
With the Celtics losing to the Heat, 129-121, earlier in the evening, the Knicks took the court with a chance to clinch their first playoff berth since 2013.
James, watching in his teal top and teal shorts like he just came off the tennis court, opted out of facing the league’s hottest club but celebrated at the end.
LA’s Anthony Davis was held to 20 and missed a big jumper with 34 seconds left with a chance to tie in regulation.
Andre Drummond, whom the Knicks couldn’t get to break his verbal agreement with the Lakers, added 16 points and 18 rebounds.
Among those in attendance hoping for history was Knicks superfan Spike Lee — the filmmaker who never abandoned the franchise during their miserable seven-year walk through the wilderness.
The Knicks moved to 38-31 and down to the No. 6 seed in the East based on tiebreakers with Atlanta (38-31) and Miami (38-31).
The fourth quarter went down to the final possession after the Knicks were harassed into a 24-second violation, giving the Lakers the ball with 13.3 seconds left down two.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed a corner 3 but Wesley Matthews grabbed the offensive rebound from Rose and put it in to tie the score with 3.1 seconds left.
The Knicks ran a great play and Randle raced past Davis into the paint but couldn’t connect on the runner at the buzzer, with Davis affecting the shot from behind. Onto overtime.
With Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley missing the final three games of this trip, Frank Ntilikina was called into action again. And this time, Ntilikina delivered a good outing and closed the game.
Ntilikina finished with nine points, two assists, two steals and zero turnovers in 23 minutes. He drilled two 3-pointers in the first half and made a slick crosscourt pass to Rose, who canned a jumper.
Wearing their purple uniforms at home, the Lakers went scoreless in the final five minutes of the third quarter and the Knicks took a 76-73 lead into the fourth quarter.
This was the 11th day of the Knicks being out West, but they didn’t appear road weary.
“You think about all the things that you’re going to have to go through over the course of the season and you try to prepare for that,’’ Tom Thibodeau said of this long-anticipated trip. “We want to have the mental toughness that we can get through anything,”
Lee sat in the sparse socially distanced courtside seats. The only Lakers celebrity spotted courtside was Rams receiver DeSean Jackson and team executive Kurt Rambis, the former Knicks head coach.
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