Malik Monk provided a spark off the bench in his return from the coronavirus-caused break, but the Los Angeles Lakers still lost to the Brooklyn Nets 122-115 in a Christmas Day thriller.
Monk ended the night as the Lakers’ second-best scorer, chipping in 20 points in over 35 minutes on the floor. He shot 3-for-7 from the 3-point land (42.9%) and 5-for-6 from within the arc — helping LeBron James inspire the impressive but short-lived comeback in the fourth quarter.
When discussing his performance, Monk explained what he wanted to prove in his return after missing the last five games due to COVID-19.
“That’s a good question. Shit, that I’m back (laughs). That’s really it, man. That I’m here,” the guard said.
“Just to get to the rim. I tried to create for others, too. We had a little misunderstanding on what we was doing on the offensive end. I felt like the ball wasn’t moving enough and I tried to come in and get to the rim and try to just mix everything thing up.”
The Lakers bounced back from a 23-point deficit in the fourth quarter with Monk’s layup tying the game when the clock showed just 45 seconds left.
But the Nets came up with smarter plays before the buzzer rang, dealing L.A. its fifth straight loss.
However, Monk said the Purple and Gold showed glimpses of the team’s potential after halftime — and needs to work on making the strong stretches in the game last longer.
“This was my first game back, so it was me getting adjusted to how the energy was with the team, but we all know what’s going on,” the 23-year-old said.
“We all know what we got to do. We’ve been saying this all year, man. We just got to do it. We just got to come out here and play like we did in the third and the fourth quarter when we went on that run. The guys know. Everybody knows. We just got to go out there and really do the stuff.”
Stanley Johnsons: Lakers made me fall in love with basketball
Besides Monk’s return, Stanley Johnson and Darren Collison made their Lakers debuts in the Christmas Day loss. Johnson had a particularly successful night, tightening the screws in L.A.’s defense when on the floor.
After the game, the 25-year-old forward spoke about his excitement over playing for the team he cheered on as a child.
“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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