Even though the Los Angeles Lakers made things interesting at the end, they ultimately lost to the Brooklyn Nets on Christmas Day, continuing their late-December skid.
LeBron James did his best to carry the Lakers as he led the comeback charge in the fourth quarter en route to a 39-point night, but it was not enough as the Nets were able to answer on the other end with clutch baskets. While James’ late-game heroics were admirable, the ugly truth is Los Angeles was outplayed for most of the night and could have very easily been blown out instead.
Aside from James, one bright spot for the Lakers was Stanley Johnson, who made his first appearance for the team since his signing. Johnson grew up near Los Angeles and sounded excited that he got to play for the team he grew up rooting for.
“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.”
As far as his on-court showing went, Johnson clearly showed he is an impact defender and did not seem fazed when trying to learn the Lakers’ scheme in a short amount of time. “I think it’s pretty easy. I kind of ask some questions and knew what was expected of me. I like to say that I can play defense at a high level. I’ve got to be smart with the fouls. I’m very confident in that part of my game. I’ve been doing that for a while, pretty strong.
Johnson indeed made an impression on his teammates and the coaching staff with how hard he played on both ends of the floor, given the team’s lack of energy most nights. The young forward already looks like he warrants a longer look, and hopefully, he gets an opportunity to keep playing in Purple and Gold.
Stanley Johnson eager to figure out what he can bring to Lakers
The Lakers roster is bereft of 3-and-D wings, so Johnson was a worthy gamble on a player who fits the mold. While that will likely be the role he settles into, Johnson is looking forward to seeing how else he can contribute.
“I think tomorrow will be great for me to find out what I can bring,” Johnson said. “I just haven’t had a lot of time to talk to anybody. 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.”
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