In the game of basketball, sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. And sometimes, you lose against one of the best teams in the league after coming up just short in an epic comeback bid led by a five man lineup you might have expected to see in the D-league. Tonight was one of those times, and it was almost insanely ridiculously awesome. Oh, who am I kidding, it WAS insanely ridiculously awesome to watch. The Lakers have won nine games this season, and I'd take a night like tonight over at least half of them.
Twice, Portland came out and flexed the muscle that has them amongst the league's elites early this season. In the first quarter, the Lakers did not score for the first four minutes of the game, and were trailing 21-4 at the 7 minute mark ... but the Lakers clawed their way back to tie the score midway through the 2nd quarter. In the 3rd quarter, Portland once again took the Lakers to the woodshed, scoring 41 points and heading into the final frame with a 20 point lead. Game ... set ... garbage time.
The Lakers appeared to be on board with garbage time, sending out a murderer's row lineup of Wesley Johnson, Xavier Henry, Nick Young, Shawne Williams and Robert Sacre, but then something magical happened. This lineup, this amalgam of throw away players and misfit toys, they started scoring. Over and over again. And they started forcing missed shots. Over and over again. Behind a 21-3 run, the Lakers brought the lead within two. Then, the Blazers remembered that they are a very talented and well-oiled machine, and they started hitting shots again. But the Lakers would not back down, would not go quietly into the night. Behind Robert Sacre and Xavier Henry, the most unlikely pick and roll combo in the history of NBA basketball, LA cut the lead to one. But alas, it was not to be. The Lakers ran out of magic right at the end, and two turnovers gave Portland a lead the Lakers finally could not surmount.
So yes, the game ended in failure for the Los Angeles Lakers. But it was a glorious failure. It was a beautiful failure. It was an immensely entertaining and incredibly spirited failure. With Jordan Farmar injured in the 1st quarter, and Pau Gasol playing terribly, and Jordan Hill non-existent, against a team with one of the best records in the league, down by 20 entering the fourth quarter, the Lakers did not give up. They turned the ball over to their star of the night (Xavier Henry had a career high 27 points), a different star every night, and worked their asses off until they were in position to steal a game they had no business winning.
There isn't much skill in this Lakers team. There isn't much talent in this Lakers team. There isn't much defense in this Lakers team. There isn't much athleticism in this Lakers team.
But there isn't much quit in this Lakers team either. I can live with that.
(Hat tip to @dexterfishmore for "Gloriously beautiful failure")