Following the Los Angeles Lakers’ Game 1 loss to the Phoenix Suns, there were a lot of questions regarding Frank Vogel’s lineup and rotations. The biggest ones surrounded center Andre Drummond and his fit next to Anthony Davis and LeBron James in the starting lineup.
Vogel would stick with his starters, however, and Drummond rewarded the Lakers head coach by setting the physical tone immediately in Game 2. Drummond was outstanding on the night with his activity and physicality, notching a double-double in the first half and finishing with 15 points and 12 rebounds in the Lakers’ seven-point win to tie the series.
Five of Drummond’s rebounds came on the offensive end, allowing the Lakers to get many extra possessions, and defensively he was everywhere as well with active hands. Vogel, in fact, was effusive in his praise for his starting center.
“I would agree that this was Drumm’s most impactful game and we needed it,” Vogel said. “Deandre Ayton is a monster, you know, he’s huge and he finishes everything and really hurt us on the glass last game. So the adjustment to try to go with more size, the fives having size in the pick-and-roll defense and then having AD on the backside to help limit the glass and limit their stuff at the rim I think helped our defense.
“But those guys had a great attention to detail, Marc and Drumm did, in terms of executing what we wanted them to do on the defensive end and both contributed offensively as well. We gave up four offensive rebounds and that was part of the plan of trying to just go a little bit bigger against Deandre Ayton.”
As opposed to Game 1, the Lakers hit first and set the tone on this night and Drummond believes that was the key to the team coming away with a road victory.
“I think we were the aggressors from the beginning of the game. We played the way we were supposed to play. We didn’t allow them to get into a rhythm early and the game just kind of took care of itself from there.”
There is no doubt that when push comes to shove, having Anthony Davis play the center position is the Lakers’ best lineup most cases down the stretch. But Drummond can provide a lot to this team with his size and activity, especially on the glass and defensive end.
In Game 2, he was a huge physical presence and didn’t deter from Davis being a force offensively. There will be times when Drummond needs to play fewer minutes and Davis at the center position, or a bigger role for Marc Gasol is necessary. But he proved that he can be a major factor for the Lakers and Vogel will continue to employ him in a way to best allow him to make that impact.
Drummond believes starting lineup is getting more comfortable each game
Due to injuries down the stretch, the Lakers full starting lineup has not had much time together to build chemistry. After their best game together though, Drummond believes they’re starting to get more comofortable.
“Today was a very good day for us with that starting five of AD, LeBron [James], myself. Yes, I think we’re starting to find ourselves little by little defensively. We’re starting to all be on one string. Offensively we’re finding ways to get everybody involved and it’s going to come together.
“Granted, we don’t have the times in practice to build the chemistry. We’re doing it on the fly and I think we’re doing a great job of that.”
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