Lonnie skywalks into our hearts and Matt Reeves is here to stay.
Your Los Angeles Lakers are officially stringing wins together! Tonight, L.A. worked its home Crypto.com Arena crowd into a frenzy with a nail biter of a victory, a 120-117 overtime thriller over a solid New Orleans Pelicans team.
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The big headline: Lonnie Walker IV really looks like a starter. He has emerged as the closest thing the Lakers have to generating offense beyond stars Anthony Davis and LeBron James. Tonight, the 6’4″ shooting guard sliced and diced to the rim and made some timely triples en route to a team-best 28 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the floor (5-of-9 from deep!) and 5-of-6 shooting from the charity stripe. He also chipped in three rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block.
In other Lakers role player news, sharpshooting small forward Matt Reeves has now emerged as a more critical player in head coach Darvin Ham’s rotation than Kendrick Nunn or Damian Jones, who were both healthy scratches in an overtime game. Reeves, as you’ll recall, was a training camp invitee who narrowly made L.A.’s opening night roster after some impressive long range preseason nights. Having a wing whose shooting opponents need to respect is so imperative for L.A., a team lousy with mediocre point guards, that to an extent it makes sense Nunn has lost his standing on the team.
One wonders how Dennis Schroder, who isn’t much of a three-point shooter, will be integrated into the lineup when he returns from his thumb surgery — or if Thomas Bryant, also recuperating from a thumb surgery, will go the way of Jones. Ham seems comfortable playing Anthony Davis and Wenyen Gabriel at center. Given that AD misses plenty of games, Jones and Bryant should still get some run, but the fact that they may have already been relegated to break-glass-in-case-of-emergency pieces is somewhat surprising.
But anyway, let’s get to the game.
Both teams started out slowly on offense. When Russell Westbrook was brought in for starting small forward Troy Brown Jr., he helped spruce things up for L.A. a bit. L.A. whiffed on a ton of long-range looks in the opening frame, ultimately going 3-of-11 from deep during the period. Overall, the Lakers went just 9-of-26 (35%) from the floor, while the Pelicans shot 11-of-21 (52%). New Orleans led after the first quarter, 27-23.
During the game’s second period, Los Angeles enjoyed one of its best frames of basketball this season, outscoring the Pellies by 16 points (33-17) in the frame to take a double digit halftime lead, 56-44.
In the third period, L.A.’s luck changed for the worse. The Pelicans outscored the Lakers 35-24 in the frame, thanks in large part to the scoring efforts of stars Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum, plus some jumpers from energy-changing bench guard Jose Alvarado.
Both teams basically held serve throughout much of the fourth frame.
With the Lakers trailing by three and just 1.3 seconds left on the regulation shot clock, L.A. needed a miracle. So Austin Reaves inbounded a cross-court pass to Matt Ryan, who did this on a fadeaway corner heave:
I think Matt Ryan is here to stay.