The Los Angeles Lakers brought energy, execution, and team spirit to Staples Center on Tuesday night, as they beat down the New Orleans Pelicans 116-95. A fresh lineup gave Mike D’Antoni cause to believe he had finally solved a puzzle that had been driving him mad.
Jordan Hill, Jodie Meeks, and Wesley Johnson were all lineup changes from the embarrassing home loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday evening. Hill stole the spotlight with a career-high 21 points and game-high 11 rebounds. Meeks, the only member of the trio who previously started this season, dropped in 15 points on 5-7 shooting. Johnson’s role was not statistically sexy, but he provided length on defense and balance on offense.
D’Antoni’s changes to the Lakers’ lineup made the players comfortable in their roles. Why? Well, Steve Blake is naturally a point guard, and he was playing point guard. Meeks is naturally a shooting guard, and he played as a shooting guard. Johnson is naturally a small forward, Jordan Hill is naturally a power forward, and Pau Gasol is naturally a center. Each player played his respective position, and the Lakers looked right.
Off the bench, Nick Young and Xavier Henry provided the scoring spark required to keep the Lakers’ bench at the top of the league. The duo combined for 32 points on 13 of 19 shooting from the field. Jordan Farmar, once again, was also a healthy contributor with nine points, eight assists, and seven rebounds in a reserve role.
Blake led the Lakers with 10 assists. The former Maryland Terrapin only took four shots on the night, exemplifying the balance on offense. Overall, five Lakers finished in double figures on a night where everything went right.
Although the Lakers won a balanced team game, one individual play stole the show. After the game, teammates, television microphones, and everyone else looked to Henry to describe his monster dunk over Jeff Withney.
“Did ya’ll see my man dunk, though?” Young screamed in the locker room. “That thing was crazy. Top 10 baby!”
On Tuesday night, the LA Lakers provided fans a much-needed victory, and best of all, everyone got tacos.