Los Angeles found itself on the brink of another loss after Lonnie Walker IV missed a potential game-tying 3 against the Pelicans late in the fourth quarter. The Lakers fouled Pelicans rookie guard Dyson Daniels, who went to the free throw line and missed both of his attempts to give Los Angeles a chance.
Down by three with 1.3 seconds remaining in the game, who would you expect to take the shot? LeBron James had 20 points on the night but was 0-for-7 from 3-point range. Anthony Davis hadn’t attempted a 3 in the game and hasn’t shot the ball well from range all season. Walker already missed his chance and Russell Westbrook was on the bench at the end of the game.
As Austin Reaves inbounded the ball, he found the least likely hero of them all.
Matt Ryan — no, not the quarterback — was the guy for the Lakers on Wednesday.
🚨 MATT RYAN SENDS IT TO OT 🚨
— NBA (@NBA) November 3, 2022
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Ryan tied the game as time expired, forcing overtime at Crypto.com Arena. Once Patrick Beverley corraled his hyped-up teammate, Los Angeles put the madness behind it and pulled off an upset win in overtime to defeat the Pelicans.
Ryan, who was one of the final players to make the Lakers roster, found himself in the heat of the moment because he provides Los Angeles with the one thing it needs most — shooting.
Ryan’s 54.5 percent shooting from 3 is by far the highest percentage on the Lakers’ roster. As a team, Los Angeles’ 26.6 3-point percentage is the worst in the NBA.
That’s how you end up on the floor with the game on the line.
After the game, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham made it clear that Ryan was actually the No. 1 option on the game-tying play.
“The play was definitely intended for (Ryan). Austin (Reaves) threw a hell of a pass,” Ham said, according to SpectrumSN’s Mike Trudell.
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Trudell added that Ham said he wanted to put Ryan in a position to get a clean look, hoping the Pelicans would see him as a decoy.
The play worked to perfection, and behind a near-triple-double of 20 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists from LeBron James, 20 points and 16 rebounds from Anthony Davis and a team-high 28 points from Walker, the Lakers picked up their second win of the season.