Stanley Johnson, who signed a 10-day deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, became the highlighted figure after saving the Lakers against the Utah Jazz on Monday, along with several other unexpected players.
Monk, THT step up, show their capabilities
Johnson, undrafted rookie Austin Reaves, former lottery pick Malik Monk, and third-year pro Talen Horton-Tucker were the ones who collectively scored 44 of the Lakers’ 101 points. Moreover, in the 15 minutes, the four players were on the court together with James, they managed to help the Lakers outscore the Jazz by 18 points. They were also the four youngest players to be on the court for Los Angeles that day.
“I just wanted to bring some energy to the game,” Johnson said. “I feel like I finally got a deflection and I finally got a loose ball and finally got some movement and assists and stuff like that. Once the energy gets into the game you’re kind of just like, ‘I’m playing with LeBron and Russ, it’s easy to play with them.’ So it’s like, I just want to bring some energy. If I bring some energy, everything’s gonna be fine.”
"I just wanted to bring some energy…it's nothing but energy and that's what I continue to bring to be successful." Stanley Johnson talks with @LakersReporter about being a key contributor in tonight's comeback win. #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/XI6FZ0vjth
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) January 18, 2022
The age difference translated well on the glass. Offensive rebounds by Reaves and Johnson in the fourth quarter, for example, kept the Jazz at arm’s length and helped the Lakers hit the final blow.
However, Johnson was truly the hero of the story as he scored on all four occasions he went at three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. The points he scored were the fuel that rekindled the Lakers’ flame.
Stanley Johnson, to @DanWoikeSports, on what gave him the confidence to attack Gobert.
"I think if you watch basketball the last couple years, some teams have had success attacking him with smaller guys off the bounce."
Says LeBron told him to attack that matchup.
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) January 18, 2022
“I think if you watch basketball the last couple years, some teams have had success attacking him with smaller guys off the bounce,” Johnson explained.
James served mainly as Johnson’s screener through the four occasions. The play calls were his Idea. “LeBron is a smart player,” Johnson joked. “So [when he says], ‘Do this,’ OK, I’ll do it. ‘Do this.’ OK, I’ll do it, too.
Stanley Johnson says “LeBron is a smart player” and saw something that allowed Stanley to attack the basket as much as he did in the fourth quarter.
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) January 18, 2022
“That’s just as simple as that went. He saw something.”
“I know the types of players I like to play with,” James said after the win.
“Yeah, people forget that he was a top-10 pick in our league and he’s only 25 years old,” James said about Johnson, who was drafted eighth overall by Detroit in 2015. “He’s a guy that’s hungry and wants to go out and prove that he belongs in the NBA and trying to stick here to stay for as long as he can.”
LeBron, asked about the late tip-in play by Austin Reaves, first cited his watching tape on Reaves after LAL acquired him, then said this:
“I know the type of players I like to play with.”
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) January 18, 2022
On limited time sale
Johnson plays for the Lakers on a 10-day contract. He is in a race to keep contributing for the remainder of the contract if he truly wishes to be re-signed for the rest of the season. Horton-Tucker and Monk, meanwhile, are currently fighting for minutes in a backcourt.
This will only get even more crowded as Kendrick Nunn is expected to return soon. Horton-Tucker, however, will likely be traded soon. He is currently the fourth-highest-paid player on the team.
— NBA (@NBA) January 18, 2022