Lakers’ Jordan Hill makes most of the opportunity he gets
Jordan Hill was driving home at 2 a.m. Saturday when his cellphone rang.
He and the rest of the Lakers had landed a bit earlier at LAX after a lopsided loss in San Antonio, so it was surprising to see whose name popped up on the Caller ID.
It was Lakers Coach Mike Brown. He told Hill to be ready for more playing time Sunday against Oklahoma City.
Nobody could have predicted the Lakers’ 114-106 double-overtime victory. Nor could they have guessed the role Hill would play.
The reserve forward-center had 14 points, two below his career high, and tied a career best with 15 rebounds.
“He was a presence,” Brown said.
Hill had totaled 11 points and eight rebounds in five weeks since joining the Lakers, acquired from Houston the day of the trade deadline for Derek Fisher and the first-round pick the Lakers had acquired from Dallas.
It was basically a salary dump, a way for the Lakers to get out of the $3.4 million owed Fisher next season. Hill, 24 and listed at 6 feet 10, will be an unrestricted free agent in July.
He certainly hadn’t done much with the Lakers, sitting out 13 games because of a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee and averaging 2.2 points and 1.6 rebounds.
His chance came Sunday when Andrew Bynum missed five of 15 shots and had 10 points in 29 minutes.
“I was playing terribly and [Brown] made the right decision,” Bynum said. “I didn’t think I was posting up hard. I wasn’t being aggressive. The only thing that needs to change is being aggressive and I’ll come out and be aggressive next game.”
Hill had a very productive nine minutes in the second quarter, totaling six points, four rebounds and recognition from cheering Lakers fans when he went back to the bench.
He was a source of energy in the fourth quarter and both overtimes as Bynum stayed on the bench.
Late in regulation, Steve Blake missed a three-point attempt, but Hill kept it alive and Pau Gasol ended up scoring on the possession.
Midway through the first overtime, Hill took an offensive rebound and was credited with a layup after a goaltending call on the Thunder’s Serge Ibaka. He also kept alive another Lakers possession with a rebound after Gasol’s miss.
“It was definitely frustrating coming from Houston and playing there, doing a good job there, and then coming here and not get my opportunity,” said Hill, who was the eighth pick in the 2009 draft. “When my time came and they needed me out there, I went out there and did what I had to do.”
Hill averaged five points and 4.8 rebounds this season with the Rockets, who in December declined to pick up his $3.6-million contract option for next season.
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