Horton-Tucker nodded at 3 points with 21.1 seconds left in overtime, and the Lakers improved their hopes of avoiding the play-in tournament with a 101-99 win over the New York Knicks Tuesday evening.
With James missing another game to keep his sprained right ankle as healthy as possible and Alex Caruso starting early with pain in his right foot, Horton-Tucker had to step in and take on some of the leadership responsibilities.
“He’s got guts and he showed it with that shot,” said Lakers coach Frank Vogel. “He had a young player-type night with good games and bad games. However, he kept his cool and remained confident ”
Julius Randle’s 3-point 1:11 left gave New York a 99-98 advantage. Derrick Rose took the ball away from Horton-Tucker on the possession that followed, but the Knicks couldn’t take advantage when Randle was called in to travel.
In a game that saw 23 header changes, Horton-Tucker made the most of his second chance, nailing a 3-point pullup with Rose keeping him. Horton-Tucker, from Chicago, said earlier in the season that he grew up idolizing Rose while the two went to the same high school.
“Not many Chicago kids can say they did that,” said Horton-Tucker, who has scored seven of his 13 points in overtime.
After Boston’s loss to Miami earlier that night, the Knicks were hoping to finish their first playoff spot since 2013, but will have to wait at least one more game.
New York was passed 51-39, which coach Tom Thibodeau said was the difference in the game. The game went into overtime after Wesley Matthews rallied in a rebound and put it on the line with 3.1 seconds left after Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed a 3 point corner.
“The rebound beat us tonight. All we had to do was get that last bounce – the last shot of the game. Everyone has to have a body on everyone, ”Thibodeau said.
Kyle Kuzma, who missed Sunday’s game with low back strain, led the Lakers with 23 points and Anthony Davis scored 20.
Los Angeles (39-30) is one game behind Portland and Dallas for the sixth seed in the Western Conference with three games remaining in the regular season. The Lakers hope to have James back for the home stretch, starting Wednesday against Houston.
“We know our position. We are playing desperately. That’s all we can do, ”Davis said. “This victory is a boost of confidence for us. If LeBron comes back tomorrow, we hope we can acclimate him and get back on track. We want him to be healthy and ready for the playoffs. “
Randle had 31 points and Rose 27. New York, Atlanta and Miami are all tied 38-31, but only the Heat secured their place in the top six in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks had a 76-73 advantage going into the fourth quarter and scored nine of the first 11 points of the period to come up 85-75 with 7:39 to go. The Lakers trailed by seven with 5 minutes left before going into a 9-2 run as Andre Drummond’s stoppage on Caldwell-Pope assist tied him at 89 with 1:56 to make.
Rose’s jumper with 1:37 left gave the Knicks a twosome win, but they weren’t able to come away with points from their last three possessions.
The Knicks had a 42-40 advantage midway through the second quarter before the Lakers won nine straight points – including six by Kuzma – to come up 49-42 with 3:42 remaining. It was the biggest lead of any team in the first three quarters.
Knicks: New York was 3-3 on the road and was looking to win both of its games in Los Angeles for the first time since the 1996-97 season. … Alec Burks (left knee bruised) and Immanuel Quickley (sprained left ankle) were out for the third game in a row.
Lakers: Drummond (16 points, 18 rebounds) achieved his 25th double-double this season, including his seventh since joining Los Angeles on March 28.
Knicks: Close the regular season with three straight home games, starting Thursday against San Antonio.
Lakers: Host Houston Wednesday. Los Angeles will unveil its 2019-20 championship banner ahead of the game.