Before the Los Angeles Lakers played the Los Angeles Clippers, next to no one thought the big story leaving the game would be the bench play of the home team, but it is.
Last season, the Lakers bench was about as dismal as can be, but during the NBA season and home opener for the purple and gold, they truly showed just how hard they have been working this offseason.
The bench alone scored 76pts, a feat which hasn’t been done since March 1985.
There was an overwhelming feeling after the game that labeling the team as an underdog is just the fuel they needed to get going. Henry said:
“We’re a deep team, and people don’t think we’re that good. That always fuels us. People are saying we’re going to finish 12th or whatever, but we have a great group of guys who go out there and play hard. We’re young. We’re athletic. We get after it.”
Jodie Meeks echoed this sentiment:
“It’s not a bad thing to be the underdog sometimes. No expectations. We go out there and play hard. What’s the worst that can happen? We lose, and people say we’re no good?”
Coach Mike D’Antoni even got some love from Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, who said:
“Mike (D’Antoni) did a great thing: He didn’t bring his starters back in. There was a point where I was thinking: ‘Please bring them back in.’”
As a result, the Lakers starters were able to sit the entire fourth quarter, when their reserves scored an incredible 41pts.
Granted, that was Henry’s best career game, with 22pts, so people shouldn’t count on that happening often, since his career average is 4.6pts per game. That’s not to say that he couldn’t do it again, but it’s an unreliable expectation at this time.
If the Lakers can play like they did last night, then they can match up to almost any team in the NBA. They didn’t have Kobe, and the bench played so well that the older starters got a chance to rest, which is SO necessary with this group of guys who seem to constantly be battling injuries.