The Los Angeles Lakers showed off their resolve in the fourth quarter of the blockbuster clash with the Brooklyn Nets.
L.A. twice came back from double-digit deficits during the game. But it was in the fourth quarter when the Lakers spectacularly cranked up the pressure and wiped off Brooklyn’s 23-point lead with a 31-8 run, tying things up with 45 seconds left.
The Lakers outscored the Nets 33-20 in the final period. But they missed their chances to jump ahead of Brooklyn in the last seconds of the game, allowing their rivals to run away with a 122-115 win.
Nevertheless, acting head coach David Fizdale heaped praise on his players for their resilience.
“Some incredible efforts being made,” Fizdale said. “One, defensively to guard James Harden. Good grief. They do so much different stuff to loosen him up. Credit to Russ, Talen [Horton-Tucker], and Stanley Johnson just for fighting him the way they did. Stanley Johnson was fantastic on him.
“For a guy just getting moved up, that’s pretty big time.”
Malik Monk and LeBron James played all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter, scoring 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Meanwhile, Stanley Johnson put on a spectacular defensive performance in his Lakers debut. The 25-year-old spent over 10 minutes on the floor in the final period, the third-most behind Monk and James only.
During that time, the Lakers were +18. He came in at 10:38, when the Nets led 107-84, and left shortly after Monk tied the game at 115-115 late in the quarter.
Fizdale praised Monk for his contagious energy in his return from a five-game break caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19). As for Darren Collison — who, like Johnson, debuted for L.A. and ended up with two rebounds, an assist, and three fouls — the coach said the veteran guard did well considering he played first NBA game since the 2018-19 season.
“[Monk] really gave us a huge, huge boost tonight. Credit to him,” Fizdale said. “I didn’t mention him, but we throw Darren Collison in the mix. This guy comes right from home and competed his tail off and looked like an NBA player on the basketball court.
“That’s pretty dang good for a guy that was just at home.”
Fizdale says Lakers need more consistency on defense
Asked about the strong defensive performance in the fourth quarter, Fizdale said the Lakers can become a respected defensive team if they add consistency to their effort on that end of the floor.
“I know as a staff, we’re going to keep hammering at it and a big part of it again is we got to get more reliable to the little things,” the coach said.
“The fundamentals of our defense and we have too many chunks of the game where that breaks down and we’re playing make-up. We need more consistent focus, more consistent effort for four quarters.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!