PORTLAND, Ore. — As they frantically aligned to defend the inbounds pass, the Portland Trail Blazers loudly called out to defend a potential lob pass.
But it didn’t matter. Not when the Lakers have worked on the play countless times in practice. Not when Wesley Johnson boasts superior speed and athleticism over the bruising LaMarcus Aldridge. Not when Lakers newcomer Kent Bazemore has the confidence to do everything a mere week since donning the purple and gold.
And in a season that’s become forever doomed with injuries and a talent depleted roster, the Lakers still provided something remarkable. Bazemore threw an inbounds pass to Johnson, who immediately sprinted toward the basket and laid the ball in to secure a 107-106 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers Monday at Moda Center.
Best highlight of Johnson’s four-year career?
“It’s definitely one of them,” Johnson said. “It’s nice that we put out the win after we were fighting the whole game.”
The Lakers nearly squandered a 15-point lead, but Johnson played a large part in making up for that difference.
Though Aldridge posted 21 points on 9-of-19 shooting, Johnson’s speed played a large part in offsetting the size disadvantage. The Lakers converted on 32 fast-break points stemmed from plucking 12 steals and forcing 20 turnovers. And, of course, Johnson’s 16 points also included the lob conversion.
“Passing the ball to him was the easy part,” Bazemore said. “You just put it anywhere around the rim and he’ll make a heck of a play on it.”
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