Two kids no one in Los Angeles had heard of prior to Wednesday had Staples Center on its feet on Friday night.
Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks came to Los Angeles via a trade for Steve Blake announced on Wednesday night. The pair flew into LAX on Thursday, went through a shootaround on Friday morning and played against the Boston Celtics on Friday night.
Without a single practice with their new team, the two kids led the Los Angeles Lakers over the Boston Celtics 101-92. Bazemore and Brooks energized their teammates and electrified the crowd. Combining for 29 points and five steals, the two new faces fit into their brand new gold jerseys immediately.
In a game that started with Pau Gasol returning to the line-up and playing well, fans left the arena talking about Bazemore and Brooks.
In his first game as a Laker, Bazemore played more minutes than any other player wearing purple and gold.
“I was nervous,” Bazemore admitted after the game. “Kobe walked in at the beginning of the game, and I was like, ‘man’…you don’t want to go out there and embarrass yourself in your first game when he’s sitting back in the locker room. That was in the back of my mind the whole time.”
Bazemore may have been the star of the evening, but the Lakers could not go a single night without an injury update. Dr. Steve Lombardo examined Bryant at halftime, and the doctor said Bryant required another three weeks before his next examination, as the 35-year-old was still suffering from soreness, pain and swelling in his fractured knee.
With only eight weeks remaining in the Lakers’ season, Bryant’s involvement for the remainder of the season is now seriously in jeopardy.
Still, the injury news was not all bad. Dr. Lombardo cleared Nick Young to return on Sunday, and Xavier Henry was cleared to perform all basketball activities short of playing 5-on-5 and full court.
After the injury news spread at halftime, the second half of the game provided its own lingering storyline.
The Lakers thrived off the energy provided by the “killer B’s.” Bazemore and Brooks led the Lakers to a 57-point second half, and their energy on defense held the Celtics to 46 points. Both of them were diving onto the floor, jumping into the crowd and playing without regard for their own well-being.
They were playing to win.
When the game clock finally hit zeros, Bazemore and Brooks had played the entire fourth quarter alongside Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman and Jordan Farmar. In those final 12 minutes, the Lakers outscored Boston 38-18.
For a night, the Lakers were fun to watch again, and everyone got tacos.