The Los Angeles Lakers have prided themselves on having a “next man up” mentality on nights that they haven’t been at full strength this season, and while they looked like they missed the injured Anthony Davis and Alex Caruso for most of their matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, they managed to make a spirited run in the fourth quarter to force overtime, where they won 119-112.
Going into the fourth quarter, the Lakers were shooting a lower percentage from the field than the Thunder, and not because Oklahoma City had it going from the field. The Lakers were just bad. They didn’t look sharp to start the fourth, either. It really wasn’t until the final three minutes of the final frame that they started to come together, and even then a late, poorly timed foul from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope allowed the Thunder to tie the game up with three free throws and go to overtime.
As a team, the Lakers outscored the Thunder 34-26 in the fourth quarter, but it was overtime where they really put the clamps on them, outscoring OKC 9-2 in the extra period. Dennis Schröder, who was playing against his former team on Monday night, had a few huge baskets down the stretch and once again lived up to his “menace” name on defense, at least when it mattered. Schröder ended the game with 19 points.
Wesley Matthews also looked strong in his first game since Jan. 28, scoring 16 points off of the bench while shooting 5-7 from the field and 4-5 from behind the arc. If this is how he’s going to play every time he has a few week’s rest, maybe this should be a regular thing for the Lakers.
In all seriousness, Matthews showed how valuable it is for the Lakers to have a player of his caliber on the bench. He also showed why Vogel’s job is so hard. Matthews can still clearly contribute on both ends of the floor, but the Lakers are deep at both guard spots. Talen Horton-Tucker, who unofficially took Matthews’ spot in the rotation, had 8 points on 4-8 shooting from the field.
Suffice to say, Vogel has his work cut out for him.
As good as Matthews was for the Lakers off of the bench, the real “next man up” was none other than LeBron James, who tallied his third triple-double of the season on Monday. James ended the game with 28 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. James shot 11-22 from the field. The rest of the team shot 33-73 from the field.
Triple-doubles after turning 35 in NBA history:— StatMuse (@statmuse) February 9, 2021
9 — LeBron James (including tonight)
8 — Jason Kidd
3 — Paul Pierce
3 — Pau Gasol pic.twitter.com/3YGLVaByT7
Arguably more impressive than that: James got his 28th regular season win over Thunder center Al Horford. Horford has won just 10 games against James in 38 tries. The Lakers have beaten Horford and the Thunder in both of their meetings this season.
Maybe next time, Al.
With a win on Monday, the Lakers extended their winning streak to five games, which ties their longest winning streak of the season. They haven’t lost a game since their lost to the Detroit Pistons on Jan. 28.
The Lakers will see the Thunder for the third and final time on Wednesday. Hopefully, for everyone’s sake, that one doesn’t go into overtime. Like LeBron, our hearts can’t handle it.