For 12 minutes on the game clock – the entire second quarter -- Friday night in Moda Center, it was Jake Layman’s world and we were all fortunate just to live in it.
Layman, who lost his spot in the Portland starting lineup to Maurice Harkless Friday, didn’t get off the Trail Blazer bench in the first quarter. But he set the Moda Center on fire in the second quarter and built a foundation for a 128-112 Portland win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Layman made 8 of his 11 shots, including 4 of 7 from three-point range, showing off an offensive array that included dunks, a finger roll and mid-range jumpers on the way to a 20-point quarter. By the end of the period, the crowd was ready to buy stock in whatever he was selling, on its feet and going nuts.
“When a player – any player -- gets on a roll like that, it’s fun to watch,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said. “You could see the enthusiasm in his eyes. He was scoring in different ways, the crowd getting behind him – those things are special. You love that about the NBA.
“I was really happy for him. It was 20 points in the quarter. That was pretty special.
“He’s going to let it fly, so he’s going to give himself the opportunity to have those quarters. “But honestly, I like the way he hit a mid-range, he hit some threes, dunks obviously, and provided a lot of energy. It was just the combination of how he was scoring and actually the threes came late. He was doing the other stuff early, then the threes came late.”
Layman is one of the most explosive players on the roster – an aggressive shooter and big jumper.
“I just got hot,” Layman said, “The guys recognized it and started calling plays for me. They set some great screens and got me open.
“It feels great that they trust me to do that in that situation. And the crowd was great.”
Layman is normally a quiet person who goes about his business without calling attention to himself. But he shows his joy on the court as much as anyone on the team.
Throughout the season, whether starting or coming off the bench – or even not playing at all – he’s continued to work hard and not complained.
“I just try to remain aggressive,” he said.
Meyers Leonard said, “He’s hungry. And he wants to play well. He’s been in and out of the rotation but he doesn’t let it affect him.
“When he gets the opportunity, he brings a very high level of energy. And he’s super-athletic. But at the same time, he plays within himself.”
It took more than Layman to beat the Pelicans, of course. All five Portland starters were in double figures, led by Damian Lillard, who had 24 points and eight assists.
And it was Lillard who made sure that Layman was getting the ball during his hot zone.
“It’s fun to see,” said Al-Farouq Aminu, who chipped in 15 points, eight rebounds and a full night chasing Anthony Davis around the court. “And I’m glad we just kept on going to him. He’s young and active and he brings a spark to us.
“I thought Dame, being the facilitator, did a very good job of making sure we were all aware of it. I have to tip my hat to Dame for being a point guard, recognizing that this guy is hot and making sure he gets his touches.”
He’ll likely continue to get his touches on the second unit, though. Stotts made that pretty clear.
“I think we all feel like Moe and the starters is good and I think Jake provides energy like he did tonight off the bench,” Stiotts said. “I think that kind of puts them both in their best situations.”