Game 3 of the Los Angeles Lakers’ first-round series against the Phoenix Suns was the franchise’s first home playoff game at Staples Center since 2013. Last year’s championship run was special, but throughout it the entire franchise from Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka to Frank Vogel, LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been clamoring for the return of fans.
The atmosphere inside Staples Center was electric even though there were only around 7,500 fans in the building as the Lakers faithful themselves have been itching for this moment as much as the team itself. No one on this current team has experienced a home playoff game with the Lakers and Vogel believes that meant a lot in their Game 3 victory.
“To me, it was this group’s first opportunity to play a playoff game in front of great fans,” the Lakers head coach noted. “And like I said, we were really yearning for full capacity or close to full capacity, but to be able to deliver a victory, there’s nothing like winning in the playoffs for sports fans and to be able to deliver that in front of those guys is a great source of pride and we’re looking forward to being in this building for years to come.”
Without a doubt the most important piece of the puzzle was the Lakers getting the victory and they did so in emphatic fashion. The crowd got their money’s worth in the second half as the Lakers began pulling away and having a ton of fun and the fans loved every minute of it.
And the Lakers will continue to be able to have these moments inside Staples Center for a long time as the franchise recently agreed to a lease extension with the building that will keep them there through 2041. Vogel potentially has the chance to be a part of some more Lakers history, but he is not thinking about that possibility right now.
“No (laughs), I’m just trying to do the best I can and win as many games as we can and give this team another chance to win a championship. All that time for perspective is down the road.”
Vogel is focused only on the task at hand and that is trying to go successfully defend their NBA Championship. If they can do that, Vogel will be a huge part of franchise history joining the list of legendary Laker coaches to lead the team to back-to-back championships.
Davis credits crowd for giving Lakers a boost
When the playoffs begin, the intensity in games picks up significantly and a locked-in, excited crowd can bring a whole different atmosphere. In the first home playoff game since 2013, the Lakers crowd did just that and Anthony Davis thanked them for the energy they provided.
“Staples Center was exactly what it needed to be,” Davis said. “Once it gets to full capacity, it’ll be even louder, but that’s what we wanted. We fed off the crowd tonight, especially during our runs. The crowd was loud and it gave us some extra energy to make shots and make some big plays defensively and ultimately win the game.
This group has never experienced what a playoff crowd in Staples Center can provide and even at less than capacity they were heard and felt. Davis and the Lakers will surely be hoping to get more of the same as the playoffs move forward.
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