Before the game started the Lakers had eight players available. It was seven players in the third. It was six players in the fourth. Then five players. Then four…more on that later. But to start the game Wes Johnson began the Lakers scoring with a three. He kept on going. Another three. And then another three. One more three. A dunk, nothing but net. He had 15 of the Lakers 36 points. He blocked shots, scrambled for rebounds. The rest of the teams was just as offensively inspired helped by great ball movement. Steve Blake had 15 assists in the game. Farmar in his first game back from his second hamstring injury had two threes in the first five minutes and easily got into the lane giving space to shooters on the perimeter. Robert Sacre had a block and a finish at the rim. Ryan Kelly had a three. Chris Kaman had a put back layup and a five foot bank shot. At the end of the quarter the Lakers had 36 points. The Lakers defense was equally inspiring. They ran at shooters, they contested shots, they swarmed the paint. They outrebounded the Cavs by 6. They were shooting 71%, 75% from three. The Cavs only had 17 points.
More threes in the second quarter. Kendall Marshall. Then Ryan Kelly. The lead was 26. The Cavs looked like ghosts. When Kaman completed a three point play the lead was 27. A bunch of bad shots by Nick Young a few minutes later, a missed three by Kelly and the Cavs went on a 7-0 run to stop the bleeding. But the Lakers kept coming. When Farmar hit a long two with three minutes left it was his 19th point; welcome back. He had five triples. Chris Kaman got his 4th foul and the Lakers subbed in Ryan Kelly. He played center. Of course the Cavs did not take advantage and Ryan Kelly scored in the paint by taking the ball to the rim. He had 26 points on 50% shooting. The Lakers scored 70 points in the first half, the first time they have done so this season. They had 22 assists on 25 makes. They shot 62%. However they gave up 32 points to the Cavs in the second quarter and the lead was 21.
Let’s go back. This was the Cavs team of which so much was expected. In the miserable Eastern Conference they were supposed to snatch a lower seed playoff spot. Instead they have suffered through Mike Brown and infighting. The Lakers took advantage of their chemistry issues, their selfishness. But before that more calamity (naturally). Nick Young twisted his knee on a fast break play when C.J. Miles attempted to stop him from a layup. And the beat goes on. So the Lakers were down to seven players. No matter. Ryan Kelly hit a three and the Lakers were up by 28. The Cavs continued their sleepwalking. Or were they in quit mode? With 7 minutes left in the third they were up by 28. Kaman got his fifth foul and he went to the bench, the empty bench. The Lakers went small with Kelly as the center. Clearly the Cavs would take advantage. Never mind. At the end of the third the Lakers were up by 18 and had 98 points going into the fourth with only 7 players available, and one of them in foul trouble.
The Lakers went cold to start the fourth, the Cavs were hot and the lead was down to 10 with nine minutes left in the game. Kaman came in, made a shot and then fouled out in the next possession. Six players left. Farmar injured his calf. The Lakers were down to 5 players. And the lead was 8 with five minutes left in the game. Uh-oh. Sacre got his fifth foul. Nash was in the wings just in case. Who cares that Mike Brown was benching Kyrie Irving with a ten point game that was winnable for the Cavs. This was probably the most dramatic game of the Lakers season. Sacre fouled out. But not really. According to the rule if a player fouls out and there is no one left to substitute he can stay in the game but any time he fouls it is a technical foul. So there was Sacre trying not to foul. Steve Blake was not going to let them lose. He had a triple double. He hit two big threes down the stretch (they made 18 in the game) and two free throws to maintain the lead at nine. Still no Kyrie. Hmmm…benching him the way he did Kobe. That is so Mike Brown. Despite their disadvantage the Lakers rebounded missed Cavs shots in the last minute of the game and escape in cold, snowy Cleveland. They end their seven game losing streak with four players plus one. They win 119-108. Crazy. Ridiculous. Cool.
This is what they said:
Mike D’antoni: “Our guys played hard. We’re getting better. Farmar cramped up, he played too many minutes, he should be ready Friday. We were going to leave Robert in but I did not think he would foul that many times that he would kill us. I was not going to put in Nash. Steve Blake is the difference. He plays hard. He plays with grit.”
Ryan Kelly: “I’ve never seen anything like it. Sacre was taking charges with five fouls. We said don’t succumb to it. We needed to find a way to win. We fought to the end. Steve Blake had unbelievable plays at the end. Steve has end of game heroics in him. We looked to him.”
Nick Young: “I’ll get a MRI tomorrow. Tonight sums up what the year has been. I’ve never seen it.”
Wes Johnson: “I thought we were going to have to play with four. That last foul they called I thought they would let it go because of the situation. We stuck together and kept fighting. And we had a good margin. The defensive stops towards the end helped us.”
Robert Sacre: “I did not know what to do. I did not know if we had enough guys. I’m in my mind- oh dang, here we go again. I am just glad our team fought through the adversity. Guys have a lot of heart and we wanted to win this. We came out with a great mindset that we were not going to lose. I have no idea how many guys we have right now.”
Jordan Farmar: “I’m just being cautious. My calf cramped up. I’ll be alright. It was crazy. I did not know the rule. I just wanted to be aggressive and look for my shot. We just kept playing and fighting and we made big shots. We had enough of a cushion to hold on.”
Tags: Los Angeles Lakers