Lakers get a road win over Suns 100-93 with Ball on the bench for the fourth
As the fourth quarter opened Monday night, the scoreboard inside the Talking Stick Arena showed fans imitating the famous scene from the movie “Titanic.” Trying their best to mimic Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, they stood with hands spread wide, their chests forward and their backs slightly arched trying to recreate that iconic moment.
On the court, Corey Brewer impersonated the bigger star from the blockbuster — the iceberg — and made sure he and the Lakers would sink the home team.
The wiry veteran scored all 13 of his points in the second half, injecting life into his teammates with his play and helping the Lakers end a three-game losing streak with a 100-93 victory in the finale of a four-game trip.
“Brewer definitely provided that energy we needed tonight,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said.
Brewer’s points came almost entirely off of his energy, cutting to the basket for a dunk after taking a pass from Lonzo Ball, getting into transition for an easy dunk after a turnover and sliding into the corner right in front of the Suns bench for a three-point basket.
And, defensively, Brewer was a menace. He blocked shots, created steals and helped slow down Devin Booker, a sharp-shooting Suns guard who scored 36 points but only seven in the fourth quarter with Brewer draped all over him.
“Whenever Corey comes on,” Ball said, “defense always picks up so he kind of leads that. And tonight he gave us a lot of energy.”
The Lakers’ strong play in the fourth quarter was even more impressive as they wrapped up a long trip in which they played in three time zones.
With Ball on the bench for the game’s last 15 minutes, Jordan Clarkson carried the load, scoring 25 points. Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope each scored 15 points and Kyle Kuzma 11.
While you might think the ideal situation would’ve been for Ball to run the offense in the fourth quarter while the Lakers put the game away, Walton said there are other facets to his development than simply being on the court.
“The way the NBA’s supposed to work and has worked, as long as I can remember, is young players come in and sit,” Walton said. “And they watch vets do it, and they watch how vets do it. …And, they get hungry. As they get opportunities, they’re more professional because they’ve learned from people who have done it before them.”
The rookie point guard said he was fine with Walton’s decision.
“We got a win so I got no complaints,” Ball said. “My teammates got it done in the fourth and we had to at least get one on this road trip.”
For the rookies, their longest trip as professionals — a four-game trek with stops in Boston, Washington and Milwaukee before Monday — left them admittedly worn out. But luckily for them, that’s where Brewer came in.
“Anytime I get a chance to play,” he said, “I’m going to bring energy. That’s what I pride myself on, 11 years in the league, and I always bring energy. I always say when we play back-to-backs, I’m going to get you three or four extra wins a year just by energy.
“That’s what it’s all about.”
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