Frank Vogel Believes Small Lineups Are Key For Lakers’ Big 3 Dominating In Paint
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, hurting them the same way the C’s hurt L.A. in their first meeting — with aggressive play in the paint.

The Lakers made 32 field goals in the restricted area alone (excluding the rest of the paint), making 71.1% of their attempts from under the basket. Considering L.A. averages 20.1 field goals made on a 65.9% conversion rate in that zone this season, the stats show how aggressively Los Angeles attacked the rim on Tuesday.

It translated into the Lakers’ outscoring the Celtics 66-42 in the paint and outrebounding them 51-34. Both teams registered similar stats in Boston’s blowout victory over L.A. at TD Garden on Nov. 19, although in the hosts’ favor.

Head coach Frank Vogel said the Lakers’ small lineups did a good job at leaving their Big 3 with enough space to attack the rim, leading to their dominance in the paint.

“I think largely because of the lineups, we played AD at the five the whole night, we didn’t play any bigger lineups, which sometimes compromises your defense,” Vogel said.

“But like I said, we’re looking at things where hopefully we can play those lineups without it compromising your defense and if you give guys like Russ, Bron, and AD the open lane to attack, hopefully we can have that type of night in terms of attacking the paint and hopefully we can add the 3-point shooting to it as well.

“We didn’t shoot the ball that well tonight but still had a strong performance.”

The Big 3 thrived against the Celtics. LeBron James ended the night with 30 points, four rebounds and five assists. Anthony Davis chipped in 17 points and collected 16 boards. Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook scored 24 points — 15 of them in the third quarter — and dished out 11 assists.

Westbrook says ‘winning is blueprint’ for Lakers’ Big 3

James, Davis and Westbrook each had spells during which they individually took matters in their hands in the victory over the Celtics. Asked whether taking turns in leading L.A.’s game was the blueprint for the team’s Big 3, Westbrook said winning is all that matters for the All-Star trio.

“The game will always tell you what to do,” he said. “We have a unique team, as you guys know, and we have guys that can take over a game at any point. Whether it’s me starting off, AD, Bron, whatever, the game will always tell you what to do.

“Bron felt like he had it going and our job was to make sure we find him. AD, vice versa, do the same thing. So tonight was a way that it kind of all laid out and kind of worked out for us and it worked for us tonight. But I don’t know the blueprint, all I know is that we won so if that’s the blueprint then hell yeah.

“Winning is the blueprint.”

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