Thomas Bryant provides the spark and boost the Lakers need

Thomas Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers plays against the Boston Celtics during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Boston.  (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The Lakers’ Thomas Bryant plays against the Boston Celtics in the second half Saturday in Boston. (Michael Dwyer/Associated Press)

The Lakers needed a shock early in the third quarter after a lethargic first half in which they trailed by no less than 19 points against brooklyn nets.

Thomas Bryant was the one who provided that to the Lakers in the third.

He was a force for the Lakers by being aggressive and determined in his game, scoring 10 of his 18 points in the third, helping the Lakers take a lead at one point before dropping three points entering the fourth.

“Even though we didn’t hit them in a roll, I told him to be active on the attacking glass and roll to seal and hopefully give him the ball right there in the tight where he could finish or get a foul, or both,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said of Bryant.

Bryant grabbed an offensive rebound in one streak, scored on the backhand while being fouled, and finished the game at three to start his scoring streak in the third.

He screened for Troy Brown Jr., then rolled to the basket and scored on a two-handed dunk.

He received the ball in the post and went hard to the hoop and dove.

He showed his shooting touch by drilling a three-pointer from the corner.

By the end of Bryant’s onslaught, he had gone four-for-four down the field in the third, including making his only three-pointer. He also had four of his nine rebounds in the third.

“It just happened during what we were doing,” Bryant said. “We saw lags with them going from one to five and they wanted me to try and take advantage of what we could there in the position. I saw that too, and that’s what I wanted to do. Fortunately, it helped us to take a bit of a lead in this third quarter. We just had to maintain it.

Bryant has now started 23 consecutive games, all in place of Anthony Daviswho missed Monday’s game because it’s the start of a straight set in which the Lakers play the New York Knicks on Tuesday night.

Going into Monday night’s game, Bryant averaged 14.4 points and 8.6 rebounds as a starter. He was shooting 61.8% from the field and 47.1% from three points.

“I mean, for me, in this team, playing with big guys like that and stuff, it really doesn’t matter to me – coming off the bench or starting or whatever – because I know what I can do,” Bryant said. “I know what I can bring to this team and my abilities there. And besides, it’s not too bad to save a Hall of Famer in AD and all. But for me, I’m ready to do whatever the team needs me to win. Whether it comes from the bench, I’m with it. Or if it starts, I’m ready too.

Troy Brown a demon on the panels

Brown focused on the rebound after Russell Westbrook missed the second of his two free throws, collecting the ball for another Lakers possession. The Lakers missed the next shot, but Brown got another offensive rebound, leading to a Rui Hachimura field goal late in the fourth quarter.

Even in the loss, Brown was relentless on the boards, collecting a career-high 17 rebounds.

“For me personally today, I was playing more than three,” Brown said. “So when I’m playing at a smaller position, more in my range of places I’m playing, I feel like a lot of the guards aren’t boxed. So he was able to let me down, let me sneak behind and getting a lot of offensive rebounds and stuff today.

The 6-foot-7 Brown plays forward for the Lakers, sometimes defending small forwards and sometimes power forwards.

Against the Nets, he played both positions, which helped Brown pick up seven offensive rebounds.

“He’s definitely a three-and-D guy, but he’s a guy you can integrate and put on the pitch with a variety of different players,” Ham said. “He doesn’t necessarily need the ball in his hands. And I cheered them all on – him, Thomas, Wenyen [Gabriel] – all those guys to really make your presence felt on the glass. Especially a team that plays multiple guards like Brooklyn does, or any team for that matter. He has the ability, the athleticism, the length where he can get us extra possessions – two, three, four extra possessions.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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