Short-handed Lakers fail to finish off Knicks, drop to 1-4 without LeBron

  • Los Angeles Lakers center Tyson Chandler, top, dunks as New York Knicks forward Kevin Knox watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • New York Knicks forward Kevin Knox, right, dunks as Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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  • Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, right, shoots as New York Knicks guard Allonzo Trier defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • New York Knicks guard Trey Burke, right, shoots as Los Angeles Lakers guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, left, and center Ivica Zubac defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • New York Knicks center Enes Kanter, left, blocks the shot of Los Angeles Lakers center Ivica Zubac during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • New York Knicks guard Emmanuel Mudiay, left, shoots as Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, left, shoots as New York Knicks forward Luke Kornet defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Knicks forward Noah Vonleh, front, shoots around the defense of Lakers center Ivica Zubac, right, during the first half of Friday’s game at Staples Center. The Lakers lost 119-112, dropping to 1-4 without LeBron James. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward Michael Beasley, right, shoots as New York Knicks forward Kevin Knox defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • New York Knicks center Enes Kanter, center, tries to shoot as Los Angeles Lakers center Ivica Zubac, left, and guard Lance Stephenson defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 04: Enes Kanter #00 of the New York Knicks and Tyson Chandler #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers go for a rebound during the first quarter at Staples Center on January 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 04: Kevin Knox #20 of the New York Knicks dunks in front of Josh Hart #3 and Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first quarter at Staples Center on January 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 04: Ivica Zubac #40 of the Los Angeles Lakers goes for a rebound during the first quarter against the New York Knicks at Staples Center on January 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 04: Noah Vonleh #32 of the New York Knicks attempts a layup during the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Jeanie Buss, left, controlling owner and president of the Los Angeles Lakers, talks with director Spike Lee before an NBA basketball game between the Lakers and the New York Knicks on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • New York Knicks guard Trey Burke, left and Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball chase the ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Knicks won 119-112. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 04: Trey Burke #23 of the New York Knicks drives past Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on January 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 04: David Fizdale of the New York Knicks calls out a play during the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 04: Damyean Dotson #21 of the New York Knicks attempts a layup past Josh Hart #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the half at Staples Center on January 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, left, talks with forward Brandon Ingram during the second half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Knicks won 119-112. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 04: Josh Hart #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers scores on a jumper in front of Josh Hart #3 and Brandon Ingram #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first quarter at Staples Center on January 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates his three with JaVale McGee #7 during the first half against the New York Knicks at Staples Center on January 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

  • New York Knicks guard Tim Hardaway Jr., right, shoots as Los Angeles Lakers center Ivica Zubac defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Knicks won 119-112. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee, left, sits on the bench next to coach Luke Walton during the closing seconds of the team’s NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Knicks won 119-112. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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LOS ANGELES — If a victory Friday night wasn’t a must, it certainly was very much needed.

Alas, the Lakers – depleted by injuries to LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma and Rajon Rondo – couldn’t compensate sufficiently for a hefty free-throw disparity and 17 turnovers as they lost 119-112, awarding the Knicks just their 10th victory this season and their second in the past 15 games.

The Lakers (21-18) fell to 1-4 without James, who suffered a groin injury during the Christmas Day game at Golden State. In all four losses, the Lakers had second-half leads.

Starting with Friday’s affair, the Lakers’ schedule delivered seven consecutive opponents who currently sit outside of playoff position. In the wild Western Conference, where three losses in four games will drop a team from fifth to eighth in the standings, actually winning the winnable games – such as Friday’s – is of great import.

But the game – during which the Knicks made 34 of 41 free throws while the Lakers had only 20 free-throw attempts, of which they made 15 – yo-yo’d in the visitors’ favor for much of the night, including down the stretch after the Lakers took the lead for the first time late in the third quarter.

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In the final quarter, Lonzo Ball’s (17 points, six rebounds and two assists) fourth 3-pointer made it 102-101. But Emmanuel Mudiay made one of two free throws for New York and Kanter muscled in a layup before Ingram converted a three-point play, to put the Lakers ahead again, 105-104.

New York pulled in front 106-105 on a pair of Tim Hardaway Jr. free throws, before Lance Stephenson and Mario Hezonja traded layups, which gave the Knicks (10-29) a 108-107 advantage.

A shot by McGee and two foul shots apiece by Kevin Knox and Hardaway increased New York’s lead to 112-109 with 3:28 left.

Ball’s fifth 3-pointer – tying a season-high – cut New York’s lead to 114-112 with 1:13 left. But a goaltending call on McGee, followed by a turnover by Ball (his sixth and the Lakers’ 17th) led to a bucket by Enes Kanter on the other end that gave New York a 118-112 lead with 33.6 seconds remaining.

Hart missed consecutive 3-point attempts from the top of the key and then fouled Mario Hezonja, who made one of his two foul shots to cap an 11-3 game-closing spurt, sealing the Lakers’ fourth loss in six games.

The Lakers entered the final quarter up 93-86, after McGee (18 points, nine rebounds) carried the load for a stretch of the third quarter, scoring eight consecutive points for the Lakers, who looked up and found themselves trailing only 83-81 with 3:57 left in the quarter.

Then Ivica Zubac (10 points off the bench in 12 minutes) scored on one end and blocked Hardaway Jr. on the other to spur a fast-break bucket by Ingram that gave the Lakers their first lead and cranked up the volume at Staples Center. Svi Mykhailiuk’s 3-pointer seconds later further ratcheted up the energy and extended the Lakers’ advantage to 88-84.

The Lakers trailed by only four at halftime, despite moments of insistence that the Knicks please take the game and run away with it in a turnover-plagued opening 24 minutes.

L.A. fell behind by as many as 17 points in the first quarter, when it shot 9 for 23 (39.1 percent) and 3 for 10 from deep, while the Knicks made 14 of 31 shots (45.2 percent) and went 7 of 14 from 3-point range. Six Knicks scored in the first 12 minutes, led by Hardaway Jr., who opened with 11 points.

The Lakers’ early life came primarily from Ball and Zubac. Ball, aggressive from the jump, kept the Lakers had eight first-quarter points on a pair of 3-pointers and a layup off a steal that closed the gap to 24-16. And Zubac had six points, six rebounds and two assists in his first seven minutes.

Ingram gave Lakers fans another reason to fret when he disappeared into the locker room with a trainer.

But he was back on the court to start the second quarter, when he was tasked with digging out of a 14-point hole alongside Svi Mykhailuk, Lance Stephenson, Tyson Chandler and, in his first action since Dec. 7, Michael Beasley.

“We’ll have some interesting lineups going and we’re gonna need everyone to step up,” Walton said before the game, reflecting on the additional absence of Kuzma.

Beasley punched in and got right to it, with six points, two rebounds and an assist to help the Lakers keep sight of the Knicks until back-to-back 3-pointers by Ball and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope pulled them within 54-50, and then, at the end of the half, when Ingram muscled in a shot at the rim over a pair of defenders to close it to 63-59 at intermission.

More to come on this story.

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