In Wake of Lost Stars, Lakers Stuck with Roster Full of Unrealized Potential

MILWAUKEE — This is the Wesley Johnson era.

Whether it's Mike D'Antoni or Byron Scott coaching, whichever part of Kobe Bryant's body isn't working right, the past two seasons have been marked by the Los Angeles Lakers having no choice but to invest in irrational hope that someone as soft as Johnson suddenly grows nails.

Of course, that hasn't happened, which is why Johnson wasn't even in the Lakers' injury-depleted starting lineup as they played a forgettable Wednesday night game against the Milwaukee Bucks in front of only 12,544 fans.

The Lakers' starting lineup might well have been the worst ever fielded in franchise history: Jordan Clarkson, Wayne Ellington, Ryan Kelly, Tarik Black and Robert Sacre. Their season scoring average—all added together—was 27.9 points, which is the same as what Bryant averaged by himself for the 2011-12 season.

Johnson did play in the 113-105 overtime loss, and he wasn't even as bad as youngsters such as Clarkson and Kelly, whom the Lakers are testing. But Johnson was noticeable more for two awkward moments than his seven points.

In the first half, Johnson made a three-pointer but appeared to land on O.J. Mayo's foot, twisting Johnson's right foot. Johnson was unable to shake it off. He fouled to stop the game so he could leave—but not before he howled in pain loud enough to echo throughout the not-so-full arena.

After a few minutes calming down on the bench, Johnson discovered when he got up to retreat to the locker room that he had overestimated the pain. He was able to put his weight on the foot. Um, basically all his weight.

So with what the club termed a "mild" sprain, Johnson played in the second half. Except he happened to get poked in the left eye.

Johnson went down like it was a bullet to the head.



Johnson lying crumpled in the lane from an eye poke evoked memories of the occasi...

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