The Knicks built a 24-point lead in the first half and saw the Russell Westbrook-led Lakers roar back to tie the game late in the third quarter Tuesday night.
But the Knicks put out the purple-and-gold fire and survived, 106-100, before a sold-out Garden crowd of 19,812.
The Lakers were without suspended star LeBron James and Anthony Davis played despite the flu, but probably would’ve won this if they didn’t come out sleepwalking and if Carmelo Anthony didn’t have one of his season’s worst outings.
The Knicks were without Derrick Rose and handled his absence a lot better.
With point guard Kemba Walker glued to the bench for all but two seconds of the fourth quarter, the Knicks used a backcourt trio of Alec Burks, Immanuel Quickley and Evan Fournier to close with panache. Quickley (14 points) hit four straight 3-pointers in the final period to seal the deal and move the Knicks to 10-8, while the Lakers (9-10) slipped under .500.
Fournier, in breaking a recent funk, had his most effective game since the season opener as he poured in 26 points. Despite five fouls, Julius Randle, the former Laker, added 20 points and 16 rebounds. Randle even got a technical foul from the bench, but it didn’t cost the Knicks the game.
In his Garden return, the ex-Knick Anthony, after a loud ovation when he checked in, threw up way too many bricks in a 3 of 14 stinker.
Carrying on without Rose, arguably their craftiest player, the Knicks didn’t blink and nearly blew the Lakers out of the building in the first half before settling for a closer victory.
An 18-point third quarter by Westbrook got the Lakers within 83-81 after three periods as they rallied back from a 24-point deficit.
A Westbrook rebound and long pass to Anthony for a breakaway stuff tied the score at 81 late in the third and the Lakers fans let out a giant roar.
Anthony had a chance to give the Lakers the lead on the next possession but bricked an open 3-pointer. Instead the fourth-quarter hero became Quickley.
Wearing for the first time their new black City Edition jersey, the Knicks inaugurated them in style, jumping all over the Lakers, who wore gold with purple trim.
It was 10-0 before five minutes had expired as the visitors looked like they were golden zombies, playing as if they didn’t care much. The Knicks were flying.
In building the 10-0 bulge, everyone chipped in. Fournier, the embattled new shooting guard, drained two 3s — one off a Nerlens Noel offensive rebound. Randle scored the game’s first basket on a punishing drive inside against Davis. And Walker darted to the hole for an uncontested layup.
The Knicks hit seven 3-pointers in the first quarter and were up 36-20 after one but still needed fourth-quarter magic to hold off The Lake Show.
Davis added 20 points.