Lakers' Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar instrumental in Lakers' 98-92 victory over Orlando Magic
With the Lakers facing a seven-point deficit against the Orlando Magic with 2:57 remaining in the third quarter, backup guards Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar entered the game and immediately locked eyes on each other.
"Now is our time," Farmar said to Brown. "Let's go."
"I'm in," Brown responded.
Brown and Farmar made good on their word. They were instrumental in helping the Lakers put together 15 unanswered fourth-quarter points en route to a 98-92 victory over the Magic, the first time the two teams had met since the Lakers won 4-1 in the 2009 NBA Finals.
If it weren't for the bench play led by Brown and Farmar, the Lakers (32-9) would have losses this season from every single team they eliminated in last season's playoffs.
"I told them they were the ones," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "They were the reason why we got this game."
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant scored 11 points on only four of 19 shooting, partly because of poor shot selection and partly because an attempted wraparound pass to D.J. Mbenga in the second quarter irritated the injury to his right index finger, he said. Center Andrew Bynum, suffering what Jackson referred to as low energy level, scored only eight points and missed the entire fourth quarter, sick in the locker room.
Brown and Farmar certainly spiked the Lakers' energy level. Brown scored a career-high 22 points, while Farmar added nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter. It was, all in all, a memorable day for Brown, who earlier had been included, officially, in the NBA Dunk Contest.
"We went out there, caused a little bit of havoc, got some steals, created easy looks for each other and for our teammates," Brown said, "and we came out with a win."
That all started when the Lakers opened the fourth quarter on a 15-0 run. Brown's steal ultimately set up Farmar's nine consecutive points, a sequence that included a three-pointer, a 21-foot jumper, a layup, a steal and then two free throws.
"That opened up everything," Farmar said. "I stayed really comfortable and confident and tried to stay aggressive."
This kind of production isn't an entirely new revelation.
Brown also led the Lakers with 19 points in last week's win against the Milwaukee Bucks, just two games after replacing a struggling Derek Fisher against the Clippers and posting 15 points. Meanwhile, Farmar scored 17 points in that game, a week after notching a career-high 24 points in a 131-96 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, which featured the bench scoring a season-high 66 points.
Bryant said this after Monday's victory: "The season is built on momentums. They’ll sustain this hopefully for quite a few games. It’s such a long season. It’s tough to sustain it for now until the end of the season. But I think it’s a good momentum turner for them."
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Lakers guard Shannon Brown, who finished with 22 points, drives to the hoop against Magic center Dwight Howard in the second quarter Monday night. Credit: Allen J. Schaben/ Los Angeles Times