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Lakers uncork the reserves, pour on the energy

The Lakers bench went from near-zero to hero in the season-opening win against the Clippers. 'It's a little bit different from last year,' says Coach Mike D'Antoni.

October 30, 2013|By Melissa Rohlin
  • Jordan Farmar and Xavier Henry during the second half against the Clippers.
Jordan Farmar and Xavier Henry during the second half against the Clippers. (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )

In some ways the Lakers are a hobbled version of last season's team.

Dwight Howard is gone. Kobe Bryant is sidelined as he rehabilitates his Achilles' tendon injury. Steve Nash is nearly 40.

Then there's the bench.

Last year the Lakers' bench ranked 28th out of the 30 NBA teams in scoring with 26 points a game. In Tuesday's 116-103 win over the Clippers, the Lakers reserves had 76 points.

It was the reserves' third-highest scoring game in franchise history. They had 85 points in 1985 against Golden State and 84 points again against the Warriors in 1988.

"We have a lot of young and energetic and athletic guys," said Xavier Henry, who came off the bench to score a career-high 22 points in 26 minutes. "When we come in the game, we change the pace, we change the tempo, and we change the outlook of what we do."

Not too shabby for a guy who acknowledged that some of his teammates still struggle to pronounce his name.

"A lot of them call me X, Zav, Zay," he said. "They make it work."

The Lakers bench played the entire fourth quarter, turning a four-point deficit at the top of the quarter into a 17-point lead with just under three minutes remaining. The reserves had the team's final 48 points.

"You can feel the energy and everybody rooting for everybody," Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said. "It's a little bit different from last year where it was like cold."

Seven Lakers players scored in double figures; five of them were reserves. Jordan Farmar had 16 points, Jodie Meeks had 13, Jordan Hill had 12 and Chris Kaman added 10.

D'Antoni even joked that after seeing the bench's success Tuesday, he changed his plan about limiting Nash's minutes for Wednesday's back-to-back against Golden State.

"You know what, I think Jordan Farmar needs to sit out," D'Antoni said with a chuckle.

The Lakers were heavily favored to lose their home opener. Henry hopes that the team's win not only proves their depth, but proves that they shouldn't be underestimated.

"We're not scared of anybody," Henry said. "We have a great group of guys and we're fearless."

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