LOS ANGELES — Derrick Rose showed no effects from a back issue that kept him out of the previous two games, and Kristaps Porzingis didn’t play like someone dealing with knee pain. And the Knicks continued to roll.
With team president Phil Jackson sitting a few rows behind the Knicks’ bench, his team won for the sixth time in seven games, beating the Lakers, 118-112, on Sunday night at Staples Center. The Knicks, who have won 11 of 15, are 2-0 on this five-game western swing.
“We’re improving,” Rose said. “We still got a long way to go. We never know how good we can become.”
Porzingis led the Knicks (14-10) with 26 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks. Rose shot 12-for-16 and scored 25 points. Backup point guard Brandon Jennings scored 15 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter to help the Knicks climb to four games above .500 for the first time under Jackson’s watch.
Rose, who had been sidelined with lower-back tightness, got the Knicks going early. He made his first eight shots as well as some big plays late.
“He was ready to go,” Jeff Hornacek said. “Maybe that little rest and missing that last game helped him. He had a lot of energy. He was attacking.”
Porzingis may have broken out of his shooting slump, going 8-for-15 after hitting only 31.3 percent of his shots in five previous December games. He said he had been thinking too much and was too anxious offensively, and he made the necessary adjustment. “I wanted to slow down and take good shots and make good decisions,” he said. “The game just came to me, and I didn’t have to force things.”
Porzingis not only blocked seven shots but changed numerous others. He said he told his teammates he would be there to help if the Lakers got inside.
“I was just trying to protect the rim as always,” he said. “They didn’t have a stretch four so I was able to be close to the basket and protect the rim. I was telling my teammates to not foul them on the way to the basket. I was going to go for the block.”
Carmelo Anthony shot only 4-for-16 but finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Luol Deng scored 22 points for the Lakers, who lost for the sixth straight game.
The Knicks went ahead by 11 with 50.8 seconds left in the third quarter, but a 14-2 Lakers run spanning the third and fourth quarters put the Knicks in an 87-86 hole with 8:21 left.
But the Knicks scored 13 of the next 15 points for a 99-89 lead, with Jennings the catalyst. He hit back-to-back three-pointers and fed Courtney Lee (16 points) for a layup that became a three-point play.
The Lakers cut it to 102-98 with about four minutes to go, but the Knicks charged back with a 9-3 run, going up 111-101 on a three-pointer by Jennings.
Lakers forward Metta World Peace has paid attention to what’s gone on lately in the wake of Jackson’s comments in an interview with CBS Sports Network that aired Tuesday. The Knicks’ president essentially said Anthony can be a ball-stopper. The statement seemed ill-timed and confusing, given that the Knicks have been winning.
World Peace recalled times when he and Jackson “had clashes” at practice. He said he would scream profanities at Jackson when the coach criticized him and that Jackson didn’t care. World Peace was impressed with how Anthony handled this situation.
“Phil’s going to push you,” World Peace said. “He’s going to see where your mind’s at. And Melo responded well. I’ve seen the comments. I like the fact that Melo didn’t back down. I like the fact that Melo did have some competitive comments and he went back at Phil.”
After Jackson said Anthony sometimes holds on to the ball too long, Anthony responded by saying the Knicks don’t need “any negativity” and that he didn’t like that “a temporary black cloud” was over them.
World Peace added of Jackson, “He don’t care. He does what he wants. He gets the big bucks and says what he wants to say. He’s the boss at the end of the day. He can say whatever the hell he wants to say.”
Jackson approached Anthony before practice Saturday and they cleared the air. Anthony said he asked Jackson why he’s always talking about him and later told reporters that his boss has “got to be careful with the choice of words that he uses.”
World Peace, a Queens native and former Knick, has enjoyed all of it.
He added, “Melo said, ‘We’re not listening to anything on the outside.’ That was great. That was great, man. And that’s what the Garden needs, man. They need that controversy. They need it, man. When I was there, everybody was so tense. They need that little shake-up. And they’re playing well.”