Once the game ended and the Lakers had beaten the Brooklyn Nets 128-113, several Lakers made their way to the sideline near center court to say hello to a courtside celebrity.
Former President Clinton sat there next to Fara Leff, the chief operating officer of Klutch Sports Group, the agency that represents LeBron James and Anthony Davis. First, Frank Vogel and Jason Kidd said hello, along with Dwight Howard.
“Just for him to tell me he enjoyed the fact that I’m back and I’m playing as well as I’m playing,” Howard said. “He’s super happy for me, for my team and just saying keep going, keep going. He’s very proud, so it was great to be next to the president.”
Said Vogel: “It was just an honor. He was a great president for us, a great leader for our country and it was a real honor to meet him.”
Then Davis gave Clinton a hug. Once James, who notched a triple-double in the game, finished his interview with TNT, he walked straight to Clinton.
“Between him and Barack [Obama], my presidents, you know,” James said. “Guys that I’ve, listen, I just admired Bill Clinton when he was in office and obviously Barack when he was in office. To be able to have a personal relationship with Barack and to be able to go up to Bill and he knows me. It’s just surreal man. … To be able to have moments where I could shake the president of the United States’ hands or just be on a first-name basis. It’s just crazy.”
In front of the former president, the Lakers put on an offensive display. A night after needing stingy defense to beat the New York Knicks 100-92 they played almost no defense until the second half.
But the Lakers had enough firepower to sweep a New York City back-to-back and improve to 36-9. The loss dropped the Nets to 18-25.
“Coach kind of reminded us tonight that we were 12-0 on back-to-backs, but we just tried not to fall into the trap of being tired or anything of that nature,” Davis said. “Not having fresh legs. Everybody plays back-to-backs. Guys have been in the league a long time know how it feels I think it makes us lock in a lot more, we knew it was probably going to be tight on a back-to-back, but we just try to fight through it and come up with wins.”
James finished with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, which means he will go to Philadelphia needing 18 points to pass Kobe Bryant for third on the all-time scoring list.
Overall, the Lakers made 50% of their shots and 50% of their three-pointers, with Danny Green contributing a team high four of them. Six players scored in double figures and Davis and Howard each contributed double-doubles. Howard started in place of JaVale McGee, who missed the game with an illness.
The teams combined for 145 points by halftime.
“That was sort of the halftime message, as a team, to lock in defensively and guard,” Vogel said. “We relied on the positive experience of last night in the Knicks game, where we were OK in the first half but really raised our level in the second half, held them to 34% shooting. We did the same thing tonight. It was a great defensive effort in the second half.”
The Lakers eclipsed 100 points before the third quarter ended with a jubilant celebration following a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Jared Dudley.
Although the Nets cut the Lakers’ lead to three points in the third quarter, the Lakers pulled away in the fourth. They allowed the Nets to score only 43 points in the second half.
“You want to see your team respond to poor performances,” Vogel said. “I put a challenge on our guys to do that early in the season this year. We had the one losing streak right around Christmas, and for the rest of the year, we’ve had great responses to poor performances. It was great to get a win last night. Our guys have shown great mental toughness to win on back-to-backs.”