Lakers Cruise in Battle Between Shorthanded Squad

by Joey Ramirez

Talk about a balanced attack. Despite missing four members of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team, the Lakers managed to snap their eight-game losing streak with quintessential team basketball.

Eight of the nine players who appeared for the Lakers scored in double figures, as they were able to keep Oklahoma City at bay, 120-101, in their final home game of the season.

Stanley Johnson led the charge for the Lakers, scoring a team-best 21 points with eight rebounds. While the 25-year-old used his trademark strength to bully his way to several buckets – including a particularly impressive left-handed, and-1 layup – it was his jumper that propelled him to his season-high in scoring.

Johnson, who began his Lakers tenure on a two-way contract, was complemented by a teammate that just went through the same experience. In the morning, the Lakers announced that they had signed Wenyen Gabriel to a standard contract after 17 games of performing on a two-way deal. Gabriel wasted no time contributing, as he was a constant presence at and around the rim en route to 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting, plus seven rebounds.

Dwight Howard and Talen Horton-Tucker provided matching 15-point, eight-rebound efforts. South Bay Lakers star Mason Jones had 13 points on 4-of-4 shooting. Malik Monk (12 points), Austin Reaves (11) and Wayne Ellington (10) rounded out the double-digit scoring.

Jaylen Hoard (27 points, 17 rebounds) and Georgios Kalaitzakis (25 points) led a skeleton OKC crew that was down nine players, including leading scorers Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort.

Meanwhile, the Lakers were without LeBron James – whose absence in these final two games means that he will not qualify for the NBA scoring title – as well as Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony.

However, another NBA legend took center stage, as the Lakers celebrated Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s (early) 75th birthday with a halftime ceremony and jersey giveaway to those in attendance.

Abdul-Jabbar was toasted by many of his Showtime teammates – including Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Norm Nixon, Byron Scott, Michael Cooper, A.C. Green and Kurt Rambis – along with other guests, like Bill Walton and Paula Abdul.

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