Isaiah Thomas scores 22 points off bench in Los Angeles Lakers debut
* Recap: Mavericks 130, Lakers 123
It’s just one game, but Isaiah Thomas is already feeling refreshed wearing the purple and gold of the Los Angeles Lakers. Thomas hit the floor in Dallas Saturday with the Lakers, his first game since Thursday’s wild trade deadline flurry sent him from the Cleveland to the Lakers in a roster shakeup from Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman engineered to save the season for his franchise, and looked like a different player.
After getting over the initial “shock” of it all, Thomas said he found his groove quickly wearing that No. 7 jersey with Lakers splashed across the chest. No, he didn’t look like the All-Star point guard he was in Boston last season. And no, the Lakers didn’t win in his debut. But as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN points out, Thomas looked and felt like a different player than the one glimpsed during that 15-game stint in Cleveland. In his own words, Thomas feels like he’s “got his powers back” with the Lakers, which is perhaps the most important development:
Thomas said he liked the pace and energy of his new team after averaging 14.7 points and 4.5 assists in 15 games before the Cavaliers pulled the plug on their stint with Thomas.
“I was shocked,” Thomas said of the trade. “It was a surprise, but at the same time, I am happy to have a new start, I am happy to be here with the Lakers, happy to be with a young team that is exciting, that likes to get up and down. That’s my style of play. I am here to help in any way possible. It’s a fresh start for me. I am excited.
“It kind of reminds me of the same situation when I got traded to Boston. It was a young team that was thinking rebuild, but we had some different thoughts than that, and we made a push to the playoffs. That is my job: to come to this team and bring that spirit, that fire, that killer’s mentality and just understand that we can take advantage of this opportunity that we have [the rest of] the season. It’s about winning, and it is about winning right now.”
Thomas made it clear that he does not want to “mess anything up” with the Lakers, who entered Saturday night’s game playing their best basketball of the season. With Lonzo Ball (sprained MCL) out, Brandon Ingram has flourished at point guard. Ingram started his fifth straight game at the position and scored 22 points while knocking down four of five 3-pointers.
“This is the best they have been playing,” Thomas said. “I don’t want to mess anything up. And I told [Walton] that. Whatever he needs me to do, I am willing to do that. Yes, I would love to be a starter. I feel like I deserve that and earned that, but at the same time, it’s a new chapter for me. I am here to help this team, help these young guys, continue to be professional, continue to work hard and continue to jell together.”
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