What a basketball game that was. I’m sure Laker fans would disagree with me because they’d rather see their favorite team win by 425 points. The Lakers did win, however, but it was more on the lines of a close overtime win.
And they nearly didn’t win. But thanks to two missed Pelicans free throws late and a very clutch Matt Ryan three at the buzz (the irony!), the Lakers got a second chance in this game.
It was very contentious early. It was sloppy for both teams in the first half (which honestly seems to be a common theme in Lakers games). The Lakers offense was stagnant and we saw too many threes forced up. I even laughed at how Matt Ryan got so many shots up once he was in the game; he put up 7 shots (6 were threes) in the first half and only made two of them. Dude had no conscience.
But once again, Russell Westbrook from the bench came to the rescue. With Russ on the court, the Lakers moved the ball a lot more. He was a big part of a 12-0 run that ended the half. Westbrook would have 11-6-7 in the first 24 minutes. It looked like we were on our way to a Lakers blowout, especially after the Lakers scored the first four points of the third. L.A. was up, 60-44.
The Lakers continued to excite with dunks from Lonnie Walker IV (who was outstanding), LeBron James, and Anthony Davis. But then the Lakers got messy and stopped moving around. The Pelicans took advantage as Jose “Grand Theft” Alvarado (which, by the way, is an all-time nickname), Trey Murphy III, and CJ McCollum spearheaded a 15-0 run to wrest the lead away from L.A. From there, we would go on a back-and-forth affair.
It was Zion Williamson’s turn in the fourth quarter. This guy is a house. The massive Zion scored a dozen points in the fourth. He looked unstoppable. Luckily for the Lakers, Lonnie Walker IV got 11 points of his own, including a couple of exciting jams that got the Lakers bench so fired up that they got called for a technical foul.
In the waning moments, I felt that the Lakers were not putting up great shots. LeBron missed a long three that was luckily rebounded by a skying Austin Reaves. And then Bron missed a tough turnaround jumper over the taller Larry Nance, Jr. Then CJ McCollum got the board and passed it to Nance, who sneakily ran to the frontcourt for the jam. The Pelicans were up by three with 7.8 ticks left. The Lakers then ran a play that ended with a Walker corner three but he didn’t make it. New Orleans had a chance to put the game away but the Basketball Gods shined upon the Lakers as Dyson Daniels missed both free throws. And then we got the Matt Ryan three in the highlight above.
In overtime, the Lakers started it off with a Walker three. They weren’t able to completely break free from the Pelicans as CJ McCollum hit a couple of shots to keep it within three. LeBron missed a jumper with 15 seconds left and the Pels had a chance to tie. CJ missed a three with about four seconds left. Davis got the board and New Orleans curiously didn’t foul him. The Lakers barely got away with the W.
The Lakers were very very fortunate to get away with the win. We could’ve easily been talking about a 1-6 Lakers team. Lakers, however, shot 10 for 36 (.278) from behind the arc. A lot of threes were not great shots early in the game but they did make 7 for 19 (.368) after starting off 3 for 17 (.176). They had 17 turnovers and had some questionable shot selection late (especially from LeBron James, though maybe we should cut him some slack since he was under the weather).
Westbrook had 6 of those giveaways although for the most part, he had another good game off the bench (13-7-9). Walker led the team in scoring with 28 points. LeBron went for 20-10-8. Davis had 20 points, 16 boards, and four blocks. We also have to give Austin Reaves credit for that difficult crosscourt pass to Ryan at the end of regulation. The hero of the night, Matt Ryan, scored 11 points.
On the other side, we saw the Pelicans kick it into high gear at the end of the third quarter. Zion Williamson got 27 points. McCollum started slow but ended with 22-9-8. Jose Alvarado was huge in their comeback; he put in 15 points.
The Lakers have won two in a row. On Friday, they draw the surprising Utah Jazz at Crypto.com Arena. Again, it easily could’ve gone the other way but we have learned something new today.
The Matt Ryan playing for the Lakers is clutch.