Somehow, somewhere, on a team loaded with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, Andrew Bynum and Mr. Khloe Kardashian, an unlikely duo pushed the Lakers to victory Monday.
To say it was a good day for the Lakers' reserve guards would be like saying the Lakers have won a couple of championships in their history.
Shannon Brown again led the Lakers in scoring and Jordan Farmar carried them on a fourth-quarter surge to ensure a 98-92 victory over the Orlando Magic at Staples Center.
Looking for some momentum heading into an eight-game trip, the Lakers found it with Farmar (11 points, nine in the fourth quarter) and Brown (career-high 22 points).
They were needed, desperately, the Lakers looking to pad their quality-win file on a night when Kobe Bryant had 11 points on four-for-19 shooting.
Life has been kind to Brown, a throw-in in the Vladimir Radmanovic trade who led the Lakers in scoring for the second time in an eight-day span. Earlier Monday, the NBA announced that he would take part in the dunk competition next month during All-Star weekend.
"I understand that it's easy come, easy go, so I take it in stride," Brown said.
Said Lakers Coach Phil Jackson: "He's a man who's very diligent about his work. He's put in the effort and it's paying off for him."
The Lakers had been heavy in home games and a little light in worthy victories, beating Dallas twice, Phoenix twice and Atlanta, but getting pounded in San Antonio, Phoenix, Denver and Portland, not to mention that home Christmas Day loss to Cleveland.
The Magic (26-15) came into the game a little lacking, though it did take the Lakers to five games in the NBA Finals only seven months earlier.
Orlando almost took Monday's game, the Lakers stumbling along and tied at 68-68 until Farmar nailed a three-pointer with 9:33 to play. Then he hit a 21-footer and scored again on a fastbreak layup. Then he made two free throws after scooping up a loose ball near midcourt and scrambling the other direction before getting fouled. "Jordan had a real inspired six, eight minutes there," Jackson said.
Not to be forgotten, Brown drilled a fadeaway 17-footer over Vince Carter. Then he stole the ball from Jameer Nelson, leading to a three-point play by Pau Gasol at the other end. Gasol quickly returned the favor, hitting Brown as he cut through the lane for an easy layup and an 89-80 lead with 2:18 to play.
Bryant missed 10 of his first 12 shots and began the second half with eight points. In a related item, the Lakers trailed, 68-64, after a third quarter in which the Magic had a 20-2 run.
Bryant said he got hit on his injured right index finger after attempting a wrap-around pass to DJ Mbenga in the second quarter. He hit the knee of an Orlando player.
"That kind of altered things a little bit," Bryant said. "It wasn't quite there."
For the Magic, Rashard Lewis' numbers had been on the decline, Carter had been injured or ineffective in recent weeks, and Dwight Howard had seen a drop in production.
Howard wasn't the problem Monday. He had 24 points and 12 rebounds in 43 minutes, outplaying Andrew Bynum, who had a quiet eight points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes before being benched the entire fourth quarter. Bynum had flu-like symptoms and vomited during halftime, Jackson said.
The Lakers' next game will be Thursday in Cleveland, the team with the NBA's top record visiting the team right behind them. Around the corner from that game, near the end of their trip, is a Jan. 31 date at Boston.
The Lakers will be ready, no? "I'm not totally sure about that," Jackson said ominously. "I think we need to play a stronger game."