Outside of some late-game heroics against the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers had a rough road trip after losing Anthony Davis to an MCL sprain.
In the team’s first game after Davis’ injury, the Lakers put up a good fight against a short-handed Chicago Bulls team but fell short in the fourth quarter. David Fizdale served as the head coach after Frank Vogel was placed in health and safety protocols and lauded the team for their effort and energy.
One positive takeaway was Trevor Ariza, who was finally cleared to play and make his 2021-22 debut. Fizdale said it was good to see him out on the floor and believes he will be of major help going forward.
“One was just getting him back on the court,” Fizdale said after the game. “Just sweating, hitting, cutting, all of the good stuff. For him to see the ball go in was huge. He’s gonna add a ton of versatility to our team as he gets stronger and gets his conditioning up.
“But I thought he added a nice little element. It was nice to be able to say with 2:30 to go ‘Trev, get in there for defense!’ That’s gonna be a nice knife in the shed for Coach to be able to go to Trev for late-game situations and be able to switch stuff and put him on different people and have a scoring ability.”
Before playing the Bulls, Fizdale outlined why he and the organization considered Ariza such a valuable piece. “The intangible things he brings to the game over the course of his career. The ability to stand still and knock down threes. His ability to switch and guard multiple people. He’s one of the best weakside defenders from the standpoint of executing weakside action defensively and he’s a great communicator. It’s like having a coach on the floor.
“We’ve all been so excited to get him back on the floor. Hopefully, tonight he can just go out there and play. We don’t want him to have any pressure on him. We just want him to break a good sweat and compete.”
Ariza is just one component to the roster that should help, but it will be a collective effort if they hope to string together wins while Davis is out.
Trevor Ariza discusses how he felt physically after debut against Bulls
Any time a player comes back after missing so much time, there is always a risk of a setback. Fortunately, Ariza said he felt pretty good physically and believes the team got better despite the loss to the Bulls.
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