Nick Young, a player long known for being only offensive minded, took the game-winning charge with under three seconds remaining. With that unlikeliest of plays, the Los Angeles Lakers won their second game in four nights Friday and swept the season series with the Detroit Pistons.
Once again, the Lakers’ bench deserved recognition for keeping the Lakers in the game.
On the night, the Lakers played horrific defense, allowing 76 points in the paint to the Detroit Pistons. Entering the fourth quarter, the Lakers were down by 10 points, but the bench refused to quit. Shawne Williams led the bench with 20 points including 6-11 shooting from behind the arc. Williams also added nine rebounds and was a key player at power forward down the stretch.
Young had a difficult night shooting the basketball, but the former USC Trojan continued to display his maturation by playing hard on defense. After the game, Young was running around interrupting interviews to show his joy. His game-winning charge was vital to the victory.
“Nick Young won a game on defense,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said after the game. “He’s trying, and it shows.”
Young’s improved defense sounds like a broken record for fans who have been watching the Lakers win five of the last six games. Truthfully, he’s been one of the Lakers’ best defensive players during the stretch.
With Young struggling offensively, Wesley Johnson stepped up. Johnson scored 27 points on 9-11 shooting, including a scorching 6-7 from distance. Apart from Johnson and Williams, Jordan Farmar was the only other Lakers player to make a trey. Johnson tied a career-high with six 3-pointers on the night.
Steve Blake managed 10 assists for the seventh time in nine games, but his five turnovers overshadowed his positive contributions. At the end of the game, D’Antoni benched Blake in favor of Farmar. The gamble paid off despite Farmar missing two free throws that would have iced the game.
Johnson and Williams led the team in scoring and Young was the defensive difference. Right now, the Lakers are consistently winning, but that is about all that is consistent with these guys. With different guys stepping up every night, it must be a nightmare to coach against the Lakers these days.
“I just felt good,” Young said about taking the charge to win the game. ”I’m the defensive player of the year.”