Stanley Johnson scored a season-high 21 points and the Los Angeles Lakers snapped their eight-game losing streak with a 120-101 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.
Wenyen Gabriel added 16 points as the Lakers wrapped up the home portion of their dismal season with their first win since March 21 despite playing without LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony.
Jaylen Hoard had a career-high 27 points and 17 rebounds, and Georgios Kalaitzakis scored a career-high 25 points while the Thunder used only six players in their 15th loss in 19 games. Oklahoma City is finishing its first back-to-back losing seasons since relocation in 2008 with two games in downtown Los Angeles.
The Lakers improved to 11-30 since Jan. 7 when their supporting cast grabbed this win without four injured stars. James was ruled out for the season earlier in the day with an ankle injury, scuttling his bid to win his second NBA scoring title.
Los Angeles was eliminated from playoff contention Tuesday, absorbing the final blow in one of the most embarrassing seasons in recent NBA history. Davis’ return from his lengthy injury absence wasn’t enough to spark the Lakers into even a play-in spot despite the wealth of veteran talent on their roster.
James, Davis and Westbrook played together in only 21 games this season.
This game also could be the Los Angeles farewell for coach Frank Vogel, who seems likely to be the fall guy for the Lakers’ woes. Vogel led the Lakers to their 17th championship in the Florida bubble only 18 months ago, but they lost in the first round of last year’s playoffs before the faceplant of their current season.
Kalaitzakis, the Greek rookie who began the season with Milwaukee, scored in double figures for the third time in four days since signing with the Thunder out of the G League last Tuesday.
Hoard also put up his latest line of eye-popping numbers while the three-year NBA veteran is getting his first extended playing time of the season this month.
Thunder: Isaiah Roby took a hard fall and checked out of the game in the first quarter, but returned sparingly due to foul trouble.
Lakers: Gabriel got a standard NBA contract earlier in the day, punctuating his solid play since joining LA on a two-way contract March 1. ... Davis, Westbrook and Anthony are not ruled out for Sunday’s season finale, Vogel said. ... Kendrick Nunn missed his 81st consecutive game with a bone bruise in his right knee, a preseason injury initially expected to sideline him for three weeks. He has a $5.25 million player option for next season after never playing this season.
The Lakers celebrated Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s upcoming 75th birthday at halftime. The NBA career scoring leader was joined by several former teammates at midcourt as Herbie Hancock serenaded him over a huge cake. Abdul-Jabbar turns 75 on April 16.
Thunder: At Clippers on Sunday.
Lakers: At Nuggets on Sunday.