With Phil Jackson in town, the Lakers fall at the buzzer to Knicks

Phil Jackson received a warm ovation at the end of the first quarter at Staples Center.

Kurt Rambis was also there, along with Sasha Vujacic, all representing the New York Knicks one way or another.


Times change. Coaches and players leave the Lakers. Once-mighty franchises drop precipitously and miss playoffs three consecutive seasons for the first time in their 68-year history.

Neither the Knicks nor Lakers were championship material Sunday but New York emerged with a 90-87 victory.

Jose Calderon made the winning three-pointer with 0.2 seconds left, ending Kobe Bryant's last game against so many pieces of his past, including close friend Carmelo Anthony.

There wasn't much to write about the game itself.

The Lakers (14-53) missed 20 of their first 23 shots. D'Angelo Russell stumbled after so many good outings, finishing with four points. Bryant, barely hanging on for the last month of his career, had 14 points on erratic five-for-15 shooting.

The loudest first-half applause came when Jackson, the Knicks' president, was shown on the scoreboard. He was sitting behind New York's bench. Some Lakers fans even stood for him.

Despite the struggles of the Knicks, now 28-40, Bryant stood by Jackson, as usual.

"We wouldn't have won any of those championships without him," he said, adding that Chicago and Michael Jordan wouldn't have either.

Bryant also disputed the concept that Jackson won 11 championships only because he had rosters with great players.

"Silliest argument in the world to me," he said. "What, are you going to win with a lot of scrubs?"

Rambis picked up the victory to improve to 5-9 as the Knicks' interim coach, accepting the promotion from assistant coach after Derek Fisher was fired last month.

Vujacic scored five points for New York. He was with the Lakers for seven years, winning championships in 2009 and 2010. It was the latter that Bryant mentioned Sunday. It was his favorite of the five he claimed in 20 NBA seasons.

"If you ask Phil and I, we still don't know how we won that series," Bryant said of beating Boston. "Phil had to dig deep into the bag of tricks on that one."

Win they did that day, something that hasn't happened often in recent years.


They were horribly stagnant in the first quarter Sunday, scoring 11 points on three-for-19 shooting (15.8%). Their reserves brought them back in the fourth quarter: Lou Williams (15 points), Brandon Bass (11 points) and Marcelo Huertas (nine points).

It wasn't enough. It rarely has been this season.

"I just thought we went back to our old ways of dribbling, dribbling, dribbling around," Lakers Coach Byron Scott said. "We're not Golden State, we're not San Antonio, we're not OKC. We can't come out and mess around for two quarters and think we can come back."

Why did this happen? Scott shrugged.

"Over-confidence? I don't know," he said. "You've got to ask them. Seriously. I have no idea."

Anthony scored 26 points and had two "gigantic" late threes, Scott said, as the Knicks tried to recover from losing a 16-point edge.

They succeeded. Most teams do against the Lakers.

This would be an unfamiliar concept to Jackson, Rambis and, indeed, Vujacic.