With 7:01 remaining in the fourth quarter on Thursday night, the Boston Celtics held a 113-86 lead against the Los Angeles Lakers. Head coach Frank Vogel called a timeout at this juncture to put in his end of the bench unit, a five-man lineup that consisted of Talen Horton-Tucker, Ben McLemore, Alfonzo McKinnie, Devontae Cacok and Kostas Antetokounmpo.
What happened next seemed nearly impossible, as the Lakers formed a furious comeback filled with McLemore threes and Horton-Tucker layups. They quickly closed the gap with an absurd 24-2 run over the next 5:43 of game time. This prompted Celtics head coach Brad Stevens to put in Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart.
Brown, who had a career night on Thursday, quickly put the game away with back-to-back buckets as the Lakers fell by eight points.
Even though they came up short, Vogel had extreme pride for that five-man unit after the game. “Super proud of those guys’ effort and their play.
“It’s a 48-minute game. It doesn’t matter what the score is or what the situation is, we play harder than our opponent. That was talked about in the timeout when we put those guys in that we want to win this stretch and those guys came out and competed their tails off. So I’m very, very proud of them. I wanted them to be able to get the W. At this point, we weren’t able to get over the hump, but that was awesome how they performed down the stretch.”
The Lakers still lost the game, but it was an incredible performance to get to the finish line. Forcing the Celtics to bring back their best players is an accomplishment, and hopefully it helps to light a fire as the Lakers face two difficult games.
Those end-of-bench guys may have to play somewhat of a role in the next couple of games as injuries continue to pile up for the Lakers. There is no telling who will be in and out of the lineup when they face the Utah Jazz on Saturday.
Lakers happy to have fans back in the arena
Thursday night was the first Lakers game in over a year where fans were in attendance, albeit in limited capacity. Vogel spoke about this after the loss. “I did see them, I did hear them. I know it’s not full capacity, but it was great to have our fans back,” Vogel said. “Watching us and cheering us on. It’s a different level of energy and juice and hopefully continues to grow.”
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