Preseason basketball is the best and worst thing ever, at least when it comes to the NBA. It is worst because it features some truly awful basketball, but best because wonky stuff like this finish to the Lakers-Trail Blazers showdown happens.
The Portland Trail Blazers were down five points with 15 seconds to go, and if they’d simply played out the string, nobody would have blamed them. Instead, the Blazers knocked down a quick jumper and stole the preceding inbound pass, allowing rookie Pat Connaughton to nail a game-tying three-pointer. This isn’t exactly Reggie Miller in the Garden, but it is ridiculous nonetheless.
So, the Lakers take a timeout with the understanding that absolutely nobody wants to play overtime in a preseason game. That left coach Byron Scott time to apparently draw up a gem of an ATO set. Who does Scott go to with a chance to win the game? No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell? Nope. Metta World Peace, a seasoned veteran with a couple of big playoff shots under his belt? Nope, not Ron Ron, either. Byron puts the ball in the hands of Ryan Kelly, a rotational player who apparently has a flair for the dramatic.
Now, Kelly didn’t just throw up some off-balance jumper to win the game. The 6’11 forward darted into the lane and threw down a thunderous dunk over the Blazers’ Noah Vonleh for the exciting win.
Yikes. The play was actually sort of similar to LeBron James on Paul George in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals. Similar except for, you know, Ryan Kelly. And, well, preseason basketball.