Head coach Mike D'Antoni of the Los Angeles Lakers earned his second straight win playing smaller lineups, and Wesley Johnson and Jodie Meeks were two players who benefited by the coach's tactics on Monday night in Portland
With only 7.1 seconds remaining, Wesley Johnson went up for an alley-oop and dropped in the game-winning basket to earn the most improbable result of the night in the NBA.
On Monday night, the last-place Los Angeles Lakers were in Oregon and came away with a victory over the Portland Trail-Blazers in an exciting contest. Johnson finished with 14 points, but his athleticism was all over the court jumped out of the box score. The smaller Johnson was effective playing against the much larger LaMarcus Aldridge throughout the night.
“When you have the right spirit and you play hard, you know, good things happen,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said after the win.
Along with Johnson, one of the Lakers clearly playing hard with the right spirit was Jodie Meeks. Meeks finished with 21 points and threw down at least one memorable slam dunk. Also noteworthy, Meeks played a vital role in guarding the final possession. He contained Blazers point guard Damian Lillard out on the perimeter and forced the talented 23-year-old to take a difficult shot from long distance.
When that shot came up short, the Lakers won, and defense deserved credit.
“He’s adding a lot of stuff to his game that he didn’t have last year,” D’Antoni said about Meeks after the game. “He’s turned into a really good player.”
On Monday, there was no clear star of the game. The Lakers came out focused from the onset and scored 63 points in the first half. Although the visitors had blown a 15-point lead and only led by seven at the intermission, the offense looked great, and Pau Gasol looked like an All-Star in the first half.
In the typically self-destructive third quarter, the Lakers committed 10 turnovers. However, the Blazers were unable to effectively capitalize and take hold of the game. Entering the fourth quarter, the Lakers hung to a three-point lead.
Then, the already interesting game kicked into another gear.
The Lakers quickly opened up the lead to a double-digit margin. With 6:57 remaining in the ball game, the Lakers led by 10 points. Six minutes later, the lead was gone, and the score was tied.
With 34.6 seconds remaining, Lillard earned a trip to the foul line and gave the Blazers their first lead of the second half with his first free throw. He missed his second foul shot, but Portland corralled the rebound and called timeout.
With only 28.9 seconds remaining, Kent Bazemore entered the game for Jordan Farmar. Bazemore sat on the bench for the duration of the fourth quarter up to that point. Off a missed jump shot by the Blazers, Bazemore caught the rebound and immediately looked to attack.
He appeared to get fouled, but the officials called it a strip. Still, the Lakers retained possession.
While the officials checked the replay to make sure the call was correct, the Lakers set up the game-winning play. Bazemore took the ball out-of-bounds and tossed a direct alley-oop to Johnson.
Johnson caught the ball over Aldridge and laid the ball in. Meeks contained Lillard on the other end, and the Lakers won.
After catching a quick flight back to LA, the Lakers will host the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night at Staples Center.