Lance Stephenson was dancing again, his rhythmic motions on display over and over and over again, with his Lakers teammates enjoying every moment of it during their 123-120 victory over the Clippers on Thursday night at Staples Center.
He even added a new move to his staple air guitar routine.
Stephenson’s last dance, a shimmy-shake after he scored over Clippers big man Boban Marjanovic that included a vicious elbow to the jaw of the 7-foot-3 center, didn’t come without some controversy.
After Marjanovic fouled Stephenson on the play, he did a hippety-hop toward the baseline and then went into his gyration.
His subsequent free throw for a three-point play produced the game’s final points with 45.4 seconds left in overtime.
Before the free throw, however, Stephenson danced and celebrated with the fans.
“Just having fun,” Stephenson said after the game. “It was a close game and that was a big bucket so I had to do a little celebration.”
Does he have a name for that particular dance?
“No, I ain’t got one for that one,” Stephenson said, laughing. “I ain’t got one for that one, you know?”
The Clippers, on the other hand, were incensed that Stephenson’s left elbow had whacked Marjanovic in the jaw as the 6-6 guard elevated to the basket.
The officials looked at a video replay for a possible hostile act by Stephenson, but they ruled that it was just an on-court defensive foul by Marjanovic and that there was no flagrant contact.
“I was blown away at least a flagrant wasn’t called,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I don’t know how you can come to that judgment.”
Stephenson said, “I just tried to get an easy bucket. I made the strongest play possible. He’s a big guy so I went up strong. I’m just happy it went my way.”
A lot went his way during that game. He had 20 points on six-for-10 shooting, making five of eight three-pointers.
“Just catch-and-shoot,” Stephenson said. “My teammate finding me, but for the most part we played the right way and we got the ‘W.’”
LeBron James, who played in his first game since Dec. 25 after recovering from a groin injury, was quick to single out Stephenson’s performance after the game.
“We was ready, we stuck together and every night it’s going to be a different person that gives us that lift. Tonight it was Born Ready,” James said, using Stephenson’s nickname. “He gave us a lift off the bench. Shot the ball extremely well from the three-point line.”
With James back in the lineup, the Lakers get more spacing on the court for easier looks, and Stephenson took advantage of that.
“The floor is open,” Stephenson said. “When he attacks, he can find anybody so my goal is to be ready to shoot and my teammates know that.”
The Lakers listed Josh Hart (left knee tendinitis) and Kyle Kuzma (strained left hip) as probable for Saturday night’s game at Golden State.
Both Hart and Kuzma played against the Clippers. Kuzma had missed the previous two games with his injury. Hart has played through his ailment.
“I just felt good the past few days,” Kuzma said. “Went through a full contact and went through shootaround and played.”
AT GOLDEN STATE
When: 5:30 p.m., Saturday.
On Air. TV : ABC; Radio: 710, 1330.