The clock kept approaching toward zero. His teammate’s bid for a game-winning shot went unsuccessful. So, the Lakers’ star bailed his team out with a theatrical putback.
No, Kobe Bryant is not back on the floor. This moment came from Jordan Clarkson, the 46th player out of the NBA draft that remains determined to prove he should have been selected higher. Well, he provided another solid rebuttal. Clarkson posted the game-winning tip-in with .05 seconds left in the Lakers’ 89-88 overtime victory on Monday over Golden State in an NBA summer league game at Cox Pavilion after fellow rookie Julius Randle missed a potential game-winner along the baseline.
As soon as the ball went through the basket, Clarkson ran cross court full of giddiness as if he guided the Lakers to a key regular-season or playoff win.
“I just continued to play,” Clarkson told reporters in Las Vegas. “I thought Julius was going to make the shot. I just continued to play and tried to follow the ball.”
Clarkson did that in a variety of ways.
He posted a team-high 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting and seven rebounds. Clarkson showed off his quickness and aggressiveness. He also revealed potential in addressing his long-term weakness in outside shooting by making all three of his three-point attempts. And, of course, Clarkson timed himself perfectly to convert off of Randle’s miss on the final play.
“Clarkson has great explosiveness going to the basket,” Lakers’ summer league co-coach Mark Madsen told reporters in Las Vegas. “He has a tremendous pull up jumper. But the thing about Jordan Clarkson is he’s always in the right place at the right time. We saw that on the tip in with .05 seconds left. He was there and tipped it in with a soft-touch tip in. That got us the win.”
Madsen then joked he wished he actually drew the play up as it translated out on the court. Another harder play to draw up entailed anyone actually envisioning Clarkson landing up with the Lakers. Most draft experts pegged Clarkson as a mid first-round pick. But perhaps concerns about his outside shooting continued to drop his stock.
Mindful of Clarkson’s potential and the need to add back-court depth, the Lakers paid the Washington Wizards $1.8 million to secure his rights. It appears that investment will pay off, with Clarkson averaging 18.5 points per game through the Lakers’ previous two summer league games and also providing his second career game-winner since his high school days.
“I always had that chip on my shoulder and it’s just a big one now that I got drafted low,” Clarkson told reporters. “I’m blessed to be in a great situation with a great organization. I’m going to try to make the best of it.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org