Magic Johnson's Resignation Overshadows Lakers' Heartbreaking Loss to Blazers in Last Game of Season - NBC Southern California
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Magic Johnson's Resignation Overshadows Lakers' Heartbreaking Loss to Blazers in Last Game of Season

Maurice Harkless hit a corner three-pointer at the buzzer to sink the most disappointing season in Lakers franchise history, 104-101, on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

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    Lakers react to Magic Johnson's resignation before final game

    Los Angeles Lakers players Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, JaVale McGee, and Jemerrio Jones react to the announcement by President of Basketball Operations, Magic Johnson, that he was stepping down, and reflect on the season as a whole.

    (Published Wednesday, April 10, 2019)

    The Magic just wasn't there.

    In the final game of the season, Magic Johnson's shocking resignation overshadowed a heartbreaking defeat at the buzzer, as the Portland Trail Blazers ended the Los Angeles Lakers season the same way it began: with a loss.

    Maurice Harkless hit a corner three-pointer at the buzzer to sink the most disappointing season in Lakers franchise history, 104-101, on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

    Harkless finished with 26 points to lead the Blazers, but the game was all about Magic.

    Just over an hour before tip-off, Johnson dropped a bombshell on everyone by announcing his resignation as Lakers President of Basketball Operations in an impromptu press conference with the media. 

    "Today, I'm going to step down as the President," Johnson told a stunned scrum of reporters. "I feel like a monkey has been lifted off my back…I'm free."

    All the more surprising, Johnson's announcement came without prior notice to owner Jeanie Buss, general manager Rob Pelinka, head coach Luke Walton—who Johnson hinted he was prepared to fire after the game—or superstar LeBron James.

    Johnson had been on the job for just over two years, but had no prior experience as an executive before he took over the role from Jim Buss in February of 2017.

    As Johnson left the building just minutes before tip-off, saying "Bye for good this time." The Lakers and lame-duck head coach Luke Walton still had to take the court for the final game of the regular season. 

    "We're not going to talk about the Magic message from earlier," said Walton after the game. "I found out the same time you did and we were in here to play and compete for a game."

    Los Angeles Lakers President, Magic Johnson, Announces Resignation

    [LA] Los Angeles Lakers President, Magic Johnson, Announces Resignation

    Los Angeles Lakers President of Basketball Operations and Hall of Fame player, Magic Johnson, announces his resignation before the team's final game of the season.

    (Published Wednesday, April 10, 2019)

    The Lakers did compete for the full 48 minutes, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope finishing the season strong with a game-high 32 points and eight assists. He is now a free agent.

    "A lot of ups and downs, but I had fun," KCP said of the season overall. "This might be one of my funniest years. I've been in the league for six years and this might be the funniest season I've had."

    Mike Muscala had 16 points, Alex Caruso had 12 points, and 13 assists and JaVale McGee finished with 11. They are all free agents.

    "I hope opportunity, positivity, and more basketball," McGee said about what's in his future. "I really appreciate the Lakers giving me the opportunity to play extended minutes and show that I still have it."

    Rookie Jemerrio Jones capped off his 10-day contract and short sting of NBA action with the first double-double of is career, finishing the game with 11 points and 15 rebounds.

    "I don't know what to tell you about all that, that's between Magic and you all," Jones said when asked for his reaction to Johnson's resignation. "I'm just going to do me. When they give me an opportunity, I'm going to do me, regardless."

    Enes Kanter, who is now starting at center in the absence of Jusuf Nurkic had 22 points and 16 rebounds. Damian Lillard had 20 points and Seth Curry had 19 points off the bench.

    Portland led by as many as 11 points in the second quarter, but the Lakers went on a 9-0 run at the end of the third to recapture the lead.

    With less than 30 seconds remaining in the contest, Caruso turned the ball over and Lillard found Harkless open in the corner for the game-winning shot. 

    "Mo had been scoring and hitting shots the whole quarter," "He's had a lot of moments when he came up big for us. The way he rose up and took that shot showed a lot of confidence, and you see what the result was."

    Los Angeles had 29 assists and shot 35 percent from beyond the arc in the loss. 

    The Lakers enter into an uncertain offseason now in upheaval after Magic's abrupt departure leaves this once storied ship rudderless. The Lakers have not made the playoffs since 2013 and have had six consecutive losing seasons since then.

    Meanwhile, Portland is headed to the playoffs for the sixth straight season, and wrapped up home court advantage with the victory. They will likely face the Utah Jazz in the first round. 

    Notes

    LeBron James (groin), Lonzo Ball (left ankle), Josh Hart (knee surgery), Brandon Ingram (shoulder), Reggie Bullock (plantar fasciitis), Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, and Tyson Chandler all missed the game for the Lakers.

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