They were supposed to be the next unbeatable team. Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, and Mike D’Antoni as the coach – one paper, the ’12/’13 Lakers were a juggernaut. Their season finished in the first round of the playoffs, where the 6th seed Spurs had no problem and swept the Lakers. A lot of people weren’t surprised.
Their game on March 6th against the young New Orleans Hornets was the perfect encapsulation of the Lakers’ entire season. A 19-year-old Anthony Davis was in his first NBA season, with Greivis Vasquez as the team leader in minutes and Eric Gordon as the Hornets leading scorer with 17 points a game. Still, the Lakers found themselves down 19 points at halftime. We can only assume how furious Kobe was in the locker room, and whatever he told the team worked. After trading baskets in the 3rd quarter, the Lakers mounted a comeback in the 4th.
Kobe was playing out of his mind, and Dwight Howard was finally the player everyone was looking forward to seeing. Howard played tremendous defense with 5 fouls and had a monster block on Robin Lopez with 30 seconds to go. If Lopez had made that shot, the game would’ve been tied. What happened next could only be described as the biggest brainfart moment in NBA history. With 23.6 seconds to go in the game, the Lakers were inbounding the ball and the Hornets, somehow, forgot what side of the court they are on.
This is Mike D’Antoni at his finest. To even think this would work is insane, and to pull it off legendary. The Lakers lined up as if they were attacking their own basket, and somehow the Hornets went for it. A straight line and dunk to the basket later, the Lakers were up 4. How does this happen??? LA won 108 – 102; they finished the turnaround with a 20-0 run!
For the Lakers, this was a cathartic turning point, giving Laker Nation hope the team is finally coming together, right in time with the playoffs around the corner. Many years later, it is remembered as one of the most baffling moments ever witnessed on a basketball court.