Like several of his teammates this season, Lance Stephenson has seen his role change because of the rash of injuries the Los Angeles Lakers have incurred. Stephenson was called on early to provide a scoring punch off the bench, then was asked to play backup point guard.
That’s where he finds himself now, as Lonzo Ball is recovering from a Grade 3 sprained ankle and Rajon Rondo is with the starting unit. Though Stephenson is being asked to facilitate the offense, he’s also finding opportunities for his own scoring.
Such was the case Sunday night against the Phoenix Suns, when a flurry from Stephenson helped the Lakers stave off a rally. Stephenson produced a personal 8-0 run and early in the fourth quarter had 12 of the Lakers’ 13 points.
He celebrated 3-pointers with an air guitar and turned to look at fans immediately after releasing another jump shot. Staples Center went into a frenzy and many joined Stephenson by mimicking his patented celebration.
“Just having fun out there, trying to get a win,” he said. “Once you get the crowd going, we’re definitely unstoppable.”
Although his celebrations may often bursts of energy and emotion being released, Stephenson said he strummed along to Michael Jackson’s hit “Beat It” as he was putting the Suns away. “It got me going tonight.”
The Lakers bench and players on the floor grew more jubilant with each of Stephenson’s made baskets, which head coach Luke Walton attributed to the veteran’s infectious energy. “Especially when I’m positive, I feel like I’m contagious,” Stephenson said.
“Just got to continue to be positive and play through mistakes.”
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