Matt Ryans clutch 3 sends Lakers to OT en route

Matt Ryan’s clutch 3 sends Lakers to OT en route to second straight win

LOS ANGELES — As ill as LeBron James felt coming into Wednesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans — bedridden from a virus that even caused him to miss the team’s Halloween party — he certainly still would have felt sicker if the Los Angeles Lakers blew a 16-point lead and fell back to 1-6.

It turns out that Matt Ryan was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Ryan hit a 3-pointer from a pinpoint crosscourt inbounds pass from Austin Reaves at the end of the rule, and LA held 120-117 in overtime to win their second straight game.

“Today was the first day I got up since Sunday night,” said James, who finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. “There’s something floating around, and it hit me pretty hard. It hurt my heart to miss the Halloween party with all my boys on Monday.”

While James missed the celebrations, the Lakers have disguised themselves as a winning team over the past few games after starting the season 0-5.

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And the clouds parted quite easily for a team that already had more than their fair share of injuries and roster trials earlier in the season.

“My confidence when it comes to shooting, it’s unshakable,” said Ryan, who was 2-for-8 from 3 the day before the big hit. “I mean, I wouldn’t be here if that wasn’t the case.”

Coach Darvin Ham said he requested the game go to Ryan, who was a DoorDash delivery driver before playing in a game for the Boston Celtics last season. He joined the Lakers as a training camp invitee and earned a partially guaranteed contract thanks to his performance in outside shooting last season.

“I kind of felt it in my stomach [the Pelicans] I know Matt is a threat to shoot at, but I would use him as a kind of bait for someone else,” Ham said. “But the play was definitely meant for him. Austin threw one hell of a pass.”

The Lakers wouldn’t have been in this position if they hadn’t missed five straight shots in the final minute and a half of the fourth quarter that preceded Ryan’s shot. And if not for a bit of luck too. Pelicans rookie Dyson Daniels missed two free throws that could have frozen the game with 1.6 seconds remaining. Had he even made one out of two, Ryan’s shot would have been lost.

“We didn’t deserve to win this game so credit to the Lakers, they did what they had to do,” said Pelicans coach Willie Green.

Time will tell if the mini-win streak is a sign that bigger things are ahead for the Lakers or a brief lull in a season of late-night struggles in the Western Conference. To this point, LA’s next opponent on Friday, the Utah Jazz, is 6-3 despite trading their two All-Stars in Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert during the offseason.

There won’t be many easy nights, and many results could come down to something as tiny as a Daniels free throw or a Ryan 3.

“Just keep that feeling,” Anthony Davis (20 points, 16 rebounds, 4 blocks) said of the key to the Lakers building on their current momentum. “I just kept fighting and trying to stay in that moment of remembering what winning feels like. We want to keep doing it.

“It starts clicking, starts finding things. Find rotations, find situations where we were really good. And the boys stay ready, come in and play well. We start putting everything together.”