Nick Young was no longer a player with a dream.
The jersey of his favorite team hung from his shoulders. The expectations of his childhood idol spurred him on. The support of a franchise he had long adored washed over him.
“It really hit me today when I stepped on that court,” Young said after scoring 17 points in only 19 minutes Saturday night during the Lakers’ 104-95 exhibition victory over the Golden State Warriors at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. “I was like, 'I’m really a Laker. I’m really here now.’ I made my first bucket and started feeling it a little bit and got it going.”
For a half, at least.
Young scored all of his points in the first two quarters, completing a dizzying array of moves. He converted a three-point play in the second quarter after pump-faking Stephen Curry into the air and then making a long jumper and an ensuing free throw.
A few minutes later, Young faked out Harrison Barnes with a crossover dribble before making a smooth step-back jumper.
“You saw that?” Young said. “That was nice, man. I can’t give up my secrets.”
What did that feel like?
“Oh, man,” Young said. “It’s a great moment when you see the bench and everybody going crazy. You’ve got to make the shot. You can’t celebrate before you make the shot, but if you make the shot there’s nothing like it.”
Young scored 14 points in the second quarter alone, making all three of his shots and all eight free throws.
“He can get on streaks like that,” Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Until Kobe [Bryant] comes back [from a torn Achilles’ tendon], we’re going to need a guy that can throw the ball up at the end of the shot clock and make his own play, and he can do that.”
Young picked up his fifth foul early in the third quarter, departed a few minutes later and did not return.
“At one point I thought I was going to foul out,” Young said. “If coach had kept me in, I think I would have been on that sideline anyway.”
He stayed in the game long enough to fulfill a dream.