The Los Angeles Lakers looked to be on their way to another blowout defeat on Christmas Day, but a fourth-quarter run brought the team all the way back to tie the game late. Though they would still fall short against the Brooklyn Nets, the team got an unexpected spark from newly-signed Stanley Johnson.
Johnson was signed the day before to a 10-day contract and his defense immediately made a difference as he was locked in on that end of the floor. His ability to guard multiple positions and overall energy was a huge boost to the Lakers and David Fizdale gave him a ton of credit after the game.
“I don’t know if we could’ve even done that if Stanley wasn’t here,” Fizdale said. “The way that they run the floor and the way they run their routes. You see Patty Mills. He never stops. He’s made his career on that motor, but we figured it out early on that this isn’t a game for our bigs tonight. I didn’t want to put them in that bad spot.
“Once we made the shift, we made a run to get the game back close at halftime. I just made the decision that the spacing looked good. Our defensive coverages was giving us a chance.”
Johnson’s numbers won’t stand out as he finished with just seven points, but the effort and energy really rubbed off on the rest of the team. The Lakers’ perimeter defense has been poor, to say the least, and it was clear in his first game in purple and gold that Johnson thrives on that end.
The Southern California product also believes he can really show what he brings to the Lakers in the coming days. “I think tomorrow will be great for me to find out what I can bring. I just haven’t had a lot of time to talk to anybody,” Johnson said.
“I have relationships with a lot of people here. A lot of great people here, so I was obviously on the phone a lot, but I think tomorrow having a game to look at and then just having information to talk over that I can like feel and be a part of, I think that’ll go a long way.”
The Lakers have spoken at great length about how important film sessions are and Johnson will get to experience that. If he is able to continue his high level of play on defense, he could very well earn himself a spot on the Lakers beyond this 10-day contract.
Johnson says Lakers made him fall in love with basketball
For Johnson, growing up in Southern California, the Lakers were a big part of his life. Johnson was one of the top high school prospects while attending Mater Dei and he admits that the Lakers played a big part in him falling in love with the game.
“When you think about basketball for me, one of the things that helped me fall in love with basketball was watching the Lakers play,” Johnson said. “I think being able to play for the Lakers and on this day, it’s a special day in the NBA. It’s something that I’ll remember for a long time.”
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