Walton defends LeBron after Knicks defeat

Luke Walton defended LeBron James after the Los Angeles Lakers star faltered in the final quarter of a 124-123 defeat to the New York Knicks on Sunday.

James was rested for the loss to the Detroit Pistons on Friday, but made his comeback two days later at Madison Square Garden.

It proved to be one to forget for the legendary forward, who scored 33 points but saw a shot to win it with 2.3 seconds remaining blocked by Mario Hezonja.

James was 4-for-15 from the field in the final quarter, but Lakers head coach Walton said he should not take the blame for a 39th defeat of a miserable season for his side.

"He's one of the all-time great players in our league," said Walton. "He understands time and score and everything else.

"So, he's earned that right to take the shots he feels comfortable with. As opposed to some younger guys, you draw things up and tell them what to look for and tell them where to go at what time.

"He's earned the right to feel that out and take the shots he feels like are going to be good for him."

The Lakers led by 11 points in the final quarter, but were unable to prevent an eighth defeat in their last nine games as the Knicks snatched only a 14th victory of the season.

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