Kyle Kuzma, Dennis Schroder Hail Lakers’ Second Unit For Playing Harder Than Starters Against Celtics
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers came close to pulling off a spectacular comeback against the Boston Celtics on Thursday, right when the fans could cheer on the team at Staples Center for the first time this season.

The Celtics held a 27-point lead over the reigning NBA champions near the halfway mark of the fourth quarter. Head coach Frank Vogel then called for a timeout and deployed a five-man unit consisting of Talen Horton-Tucker, Ben McLemore, Alfonzo McKinnie, Devontae Cacok and Kostas Antetokounmpo.

Over the next five minutes, the Lakers were back within five points, sending Boston’s stars Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart back on the floor.

Although they came up just short, the second unit’s effort impressed Kyle Kuzma, who admitted the guys behind the unbelievable 24-2 run put in more work than the rest of the team.

“That was a lot of fun seeing those guys compete for the latter of the game,” he said. “Most of us didn’t really play that hard and to see those guys come in and give effort, that was everything. We were all excited and they almost pulled through.”

Dennis Schroder hoped the Lakers’ hustle would carry over to the next game when they’ll host the Western Conference’s current No. 1 seed Utah Jazz on Saturday. “That’s Laker basketball, we never give up no matter if we’re down 20 with five minutes left, we still try to go out there and play hard,” he said. “The unit who was out there, they played how we wanted to play 48 minutes.

“To give us a chance and to bring the [Celtics] starters back in, that’s a hell of a comeback from them and I think we just got to take that to the next game against Utah and try to play like that for 48 minutes and try to be chippy and get steals and stops.”

Two late buckets from Jaylen Brown eventually sealed the 121-113 win for the Celtics. The 24-year-old guard went off scoring 40 points on Thursday night.

Lakers laud Brown for ‘remarkable performance’

The Lakers gave credit to Brown after his superb performance at Staples Center. The shooting guard registered his third 40-point game of the season. “A remarkable performance, 17-for-20 from a guard is really a special performance,” Vogel said.

“He made a lot of tough shots, made a lot of tough shots and for us, I don’t think we followed certain gameplan issues that we had with that,” Kuzma added. “So yeah, he had a great night.”

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