LOS ANGELES - As Phil Jackson watched from a luxury suite, the Knicks showed why they will need major changes after this season is over, and for all intents and purposes it may be now.
Needing wins, and many of them, to end this tumultuous season with an improbable playoff berth, the Knicks played very little defense, lacked effort and urgency and were humiliated by the lowly Lakers, 127-96, Tuesday night at Staples Center.
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This setback, which clinched the Knicks' first losing season in four years, was more devastating than Sunday's home defeat to Cleveland, when they squandered a 17-point lead.
The Knicks (29-42) had a chance to draw within two games of the last playoff spot in the East if they opened up this five-game trip with a win. Instead, they are three games behind Atlanta and four in the loss column with 11 games remaining.
"It's very disappointing just for the fact that I don’t think we competed," Carmelo Anthony said.
The Knicks didn't compete even after Anthony said before the game that this trip could "make or break our season."
Making matters worse for Mike Woodson, who isn't expected back after this season, was that the Lakers were without Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash, a team playing out the string and hoping for a high lottery pick.
Yet Mike D'Antoni's team scored 51 in the third quarter and led by as many as 33. Over the last three quarters, the Lakers shot 43-for-65 (66.2 percent) from the field and outscored the Knicks 113-74.
The 51 points are a franchise-record for the Lakers and the most given up in a quarter in Knicks' history. The Lakers shot 57.8 percent for the game.
"It's unacceptable," Woodson said.
Tyson Chandler said he was "very shocked" about giving up 51 points in the third.
Xavier Henry led the Lakers (24-46) with 22 points and Nick Young had 20.
Anthony scored 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Tim Hardaway Jr. added 17 points and Amar'e Stoudemire 16 for the Knicks, who have lost two straight after an eight-game winning streak.
The Knicks play in Sacramento Wednesday night and continue with games in Phoenix, Golden State and Utah. Their final seven games are against teams headed to the playoffs.
"We should be upset," Anthony said. "We should be angry about this loss and take it out on Sacramento."
Woodson guesstimates 35-to-40 wins will get the eighth spot. The Knicks will need from six to 11 victories if Woodson’s math is correct. The Hawks own the head-to-head tiebreaker.
"We're still battling," Woodson said. "Somebody's going to have to win that eighth spot, us or Atlanta."
The Knicks said Jackson, who lives in nearby Playa Del Rey, wouldn't be on the remainder of this trip. He will be in New York after they return next week.
Jackson, who didn't speak to reporters, attended the morning shootaround and was in the locker room at the same time as Anthony while most players were on the court. It's unclear how much they spoke, but the Jackson-Anthony relationship is critical for the organization.
"I've seen him here and there, not to where we sit down and talk," Anthony said before the game. "We'll figure that out. I'm pretty sure we'll get together soon."
Jackson said he sees Anthony as a part of the future. Anthony has said he doesn't want to leave New York and that he would be willing to change how he plays if Jackson believes it will help him win a championship.
Jackson helped the Lakers win five titles from 2000-2010. Some, including Bryant and Magic Johnson, wanted to see the Lakers stop him from going to the Knicks.
There's been speculation about Anthony and Bryant teaming up with the Lakers. All of these sidebars added some additional drama to a nationally televised game between two teams that are a combined 35 games below .500.
"Six degrees of separation," Anthony said. "You got us coming to L.A., knowing Phil's history here, now him being back in New York. There's a lot going on. Our focus is on the game."
The Knicks certainly didn't play like it was.