The Los Angeles Lakers took their fans on two emotional rollercoasters that ultimately ended in a 108-104 defeat to the Portland Trail Blazers.
On Sunday, Los Angeles hit highs of nearly 80 degrees, but the Lakers started colder than Siberia in January. Six minutes into the game, the Lakers only had one basket. Simple math can calculate that the Lakers were on pace for 16 points for the game. Think about that for a moment.
Meanwhile, the Portland Trail Blazers started hot and had 19 points on the board after the first six minutes. Had that continued, the Lakers would have lost 152-16. Thankfully, that is not what happened.
Instead, the Lakers went to their bench, and the bench responded. Xavier Henry scored 13 points, Nick Young added 10 more, and Robert Sacre surprised everyone with six points, three offensive rebounds, and two blocks in seven and a half first-half minutes.
The Lakers came back from 17 points down and even took the lead at one point. However, the halftime scoreboard still had the Lakers trailing by three points.
Then, the third quarter happened.
The Lakers’ defense (or lack thereof) gave up 41 points on over 70 percent shooting from the field. LA trailed by 20 points, and the game appeared to be all but over. But this Lakers team has never quit on a game, and the Lakers’ reserves are a bunch defined by their “never say die” attitude.
Miraculously, the Lakers chopped a 20-point second-half deficit to only one point with about three minutes remaining in the ball game. For the majority of the final quarter, the fans at Staples Center cheered like Kobe Bryant was on the floor and Game 7 of the NBA Finals was going down to the wire. Fans even stood during timeouts late in the game. The atmosphere was electric.
So, who was on the floor? Robert Sacre was playing center, Shawne Williams was playing power forward, Wesley Johnson was playing the small forward, Jodie Meeks was playing shooting guard, and Xavier Henry was running the point. Jordan Farmar left the game early due to a hamstring injury, so the Lakers were forced to make Henry the primary ball handler for the bench unit.
Henry finished with 27 points and would likely have received the game ball if the Lakers had won. If Henry did not receive it, the honors would clearly have gone to Sacre. At one point late in the game, Sacre stepped to the free throw line, and chants of “MVP” rained down on the 24-year-old.
“I don’t know what to say,” Sacre said humbly when asked about the “MVP” chants after the game. “I knew my time would come.”
By the end of the night, Sacre had set new career highs in points (12), rebounds (7), and assists (4).
The Lakers may have lost the game, but this team erased a 17-point deficit in the first half and a 20-point deficit in the second half. Even in defeat, the crowd and city were proud to cheer for the fight these undermanned and widely unknown Lakers displayed.
Obviously, a win would provide a better ending, but LA should be proud to lose with these Lakers.