Knicks 107, Lakers 106

Just like the players, it doesnt hurt for the writers to watch a little tape every once in awhile. With another reporter filling in at practice today, I was able to catch the 10 a.m. FSN replay of the Lakers loss to the Knicks last night.

Its amazing how much clearer youre able to see things when youre not staring at a 10 p.m. deadline as well as the action on the floor. We got a little spoiled in that respect covering two weeks worth of games in the Eastern Time Zone.

There are the broad themes to last nights game – - the Lakers tired legs after the long trip, the problems staying in front of Jamal Crawford and Stephon Marbury, the tentative play out of Lamar Odom – - but I want to get into the details of the fourth quarter.

Here are eight ways that the Lakers lost the game in the fourth quarter. Its worth noting that the Lakers now have lost three consecutive games that could have gone either way in the last two minutes.

11:58Sasha Vujacic gambles on a steal and trips Jamal Crawford in the backcourt. Its only the first foul of the quarter but the Knicks wind up in the bonus barely three minutes later. You cant put the other team at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter of games.

8:53The Lakers head into a timeout but Phil Jackson decides to hold off on bringing Kobe Bryant back. The bench unit did have some good moments without Bryant and Odom in the second quarter but this was a game the Lakers had to have.

What happens? The Lakers miss a shot at one end, David Lee dunks at the other for the Knicks and Jackson immediately sends Bryant and Smush Parker to the scorers table. Remember that Bryant played the entire fourth quarter Sunday in Cleveland.

6:40Maurice Evans hits a huge 3-pointer at one end for the Lakers but Parker goes under a screen at the other end, giving Steve Francis enough space to pick some daisies and then bury a 3 to put the Knicks back ahead 95-91.

Jackson calls timeout and throws a crumpled piece of paper in frustration.

The Lakers prefer to play defense in front of their bench in the second half. Its easier to call out screens and switches that way. But the visiting team chooses sides in the NBA and the Knicks attacked the basket in front of their bench in the second half Tuesday.

6:02Parker is taken down on a fast break by Francis, who is called for a flagrant foul. The Lakers have two free throws plus the ball but convert that opportunity into just a single point.

It starts with Parker leaving his first foul shot so short that Bryant has to talk with him before the second. Maybe thats to be expected: Parker is shooting just 64.8 percent from the line this season.

Odom then erases an Evans jumper when he is called for an illegal screen. Jackson thought the call was bogus after the game but you can see on replay Odom dipping his hip into Crawfords path as he chases after Evans.

3:48The Lakers lead 99-95 with 4 1-2 minutes left but give up a couple of second-chance baskets and watch as Odom commits another offensive foul. He secures an offensive rebound but charges into Channing Frye. Odom has to be more aware than that.

0:46.8Sometimes a break just doesnt go your way. Eddy Curry bowls over Parker on a basket to put the Knicks ahead 105-104. Parker was helping on the play and had position but didnt get the call.

One curious thing to note: The referee who had the best view of the play was Eric Lewis. You might remember him as the referee Parker had to be restrained from going after during last weeks game in Atlanta. Does that factor into a split-second decision?

0:09Quentin Richardson misses a 3-pointer but the Lakers are unable to get the offensive rebound. Watching it again, Odom has the inside position and a body on Lee but the long rebound is Lees to have.

He passes to Crawford, who darts into the lane and fires an alley-oop pass to Curry for the dunk. Spike Lee starts celebrating in his Nate Robinson jersey on the sidelines. Its the game-winning basket for the Knicks.

0:07.1The Lakers final play is a mess. They ended the first half with Bryant hitting a turnaround 3-pointer at the buzzer off an inbounds pass for Odom. With more time for this shot, Jackson diagrams a play for Odom with Bryant as a decoy.

Give credit to the Knicks for defending it well. Lee and Jared Jeffries switch as Odom inbounds the ball to Turiaf and then retrieves it. He tries to head left (no surprise) but Crawford cheats off Parker to help Lee close off the driving lane.

Parker doesnt head to the corner for what would have been an open 3 until Odom goes behind his back to change direction. Bryant has the smaller Marbury on him but never even touches the ball. Odom takes a left-handed shot on the move to his right.

He misses everything and Lee gets credit in the final stats for a block on the play. Jackson runs a play for Odom with the chance to redeem the night and now has to contend with only the eighth four-game losing streak of his coaching career.

You look at a game decided by a point and there are so many places where the Lakers missed an opportunity. If even two of these plays goes differently, the Lakers probably escape with a victory.

Now the Lakers have to win Thursday against Cleveland to head into the All-Star break on any sort of positive note.

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