Apparently, all the Lakers needed to beat the Thunder this season was to sit all of their star players. Without LeBron James, Anthony Davis or Russell Westbrook, the Lakers knocked off Oklahoma City 120-101 in their final home game of the season on Friday.
Eight Lakers scored in double figures on the night, led by Stanley Johnson’s 21 points. Wenyen Gabriel had 16 points off the bench and Talen Horton-Tucker and Dwight Howard had 15 points apiece. For the Thunder, Jaylen Hoard and Georgios Kalaitzakis combined for 52 points in the loss.
Most importantly, everyone got free tacos for the first time in over a month.
Whereas Thursday’s loss to the Warriors featured a heavy dose of Talen Horton-Tucker and a smaller dose of Malik Monk doing the bulk of the scoring, it was a much more spread-out approach on Friday. Four of the five starters were in double figures in scoring by the end of the third quarter.
While Stanley Johnson was the leader in scoring through those three quarters, the egalitarian approach offensively saw Howard, Austin Reaves and Horton-Tucker all contribute against an openly-tanking Thunder side. Fresh off signing an NBA contract, Gabriel provided his typical energy around the rim and Wayne Ellington dusted off his jumper one last time in Crypto.com Arena.
Monk crossed double figures in the fourth quarter to ensure all five starters crossed the 10-point plateau. In his most minutes with the Lakers this season, Mason Jones had a big night himself with 13 points on 4-4 shooting overall, including a made 3-pointer.
In a season full of disappointments, especially at home, Friday’s win is a small positive note to close the season on. With a fresh set of youngsters playing hard, it allowed fans to cheer for a team that was fun to watch, something that hasn’t always been the case this season.
The Lakers finish the season on Sunday in Denver against the Nuggets. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. PT with the game on Spectrum SportsNet.