After losing 3 out of the last 4 games, the Lakers finally showed skeptics that D’Antoni is doing some good as the Lakers’ new head coach.
On November 30th in LA, the Lakers brought out the bench for the game and boy did it pay off. For the last two seasons, the bench has been pretty unimpressive but that quickly changed as Jamison and Meeks shot exceptionally well against the Nuggets. Veteran, Antawn Jamison signed with the Lakers this season and wowed fans with his shooting, going 13-for-19 and grabbing 12 rebounds while taking more shots than Bryant or Howard. Jamison said, “Give me some minutes, and I can make something happen. “I was just able to feed off those guys looking for me. Once I do that, I get into a rhythm, and from there, they don’t know what to do.” Jamison scored 33 points total.
Jodie Meeks, is a former player from the University of Kentucky Wildcats. Since 2009, he has been known for the game against Tennessee where he broke two school records, making 54 points and 10 three-pointers. He was acquired from the 76ers over the summer specifically because of his ability to hit 3-pointers. During Friday’s game against Denver, he ended up scoring 21 points and seven three-pointers. “It’s the way we want to play “We’ve got a lot of talent out there, and it’s got to mesh, and the ball has got to move. … So many guys had good games. I just thought the ball was moving better — just a lot of good things happening,” said D’Antoni.
Meeks and Jamison met before the game and agreed that they both have had a weak season. “I had some big games in college, but not too many games where I only missed two shots, I think everybody is more confident now. We’re at .500, so we’ve got to get over .500 and keep rolling,” said Meeks, who went 7-for-9 overall and 7-for-8 on three-pointers. Jamison and Meeks were the first Lakers reserves to score 20 points apiece since Bryant and Nick Van Exel did it in April 1998. They also tied the club record for three-pointers in a regulation game, getting five from Jamison in the first 30-point game by a Lakers reserve since Shaquille O’Neal in 1998.
Los Angeles led 71-57 at halftime, making 60% of its shots in an impressive stretch of offensive basketball. After trailing by as many as 14 points during the first half, Denver closed to seven on a basket by Kenneth Faried with 7:03 remaining in the third quarter. After starting point guard Darius Morris missed a driving layup and Pau Gasol couldn’t put away his tip shot, D’Antoni subbed Jamison for Gasol and Chris Duhon for Morris. Jamison responded by scoring 10 points in the final five minutes of the quarter and Duhon had five to push the lead to 15 heading into the fourth. The Nuggets never got back within single digits.
Replacing Gasol and Morris clearly helped. Howard seemed to benefit because he responded by scoring 16 of his 28 points in the opening quarter. Gasol was then able to start the second quarter at center and give the second unit some added punch and playmaking abilities. Gasol finished with six points, seven rebounds and tied Bryant and Duhon with a team-high eight assists.
Jamison and Meeks were a force to be reckoned with going into the fourth while three of the Lakers’ starters rested. In 6 minutes, Jamison hit the Lakers’ 16th three-pointer with 51 seconds to play. “They can spread the floor, they’re smart. … They’re not so bad defensively because you have Dwight in the back.” — D’Antoni on Jamison and Meeks.
Kobe Bryant had eight assists and 14 points, who finished with 33 assists. Howard scored 28 points and 20 rebounds, he also surprised many by making the Lakers’ 17th 3-pointer which ended the game at 122-103, Lakers.