The Los Angeles Lakers turned their first-round series around on Tuesday with a big Game 2 win over the Phoenix Suns. Frank Vogel and the Lakers made the proper adjustments and improvements and came out looking like a different team despite an incredible effort from the Suns.
Offensively, it was LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Dennis Schroder and even Andre Drummond that led the way. They combined for 96 of the Lakers’ 109 points, with Davis getting 34 to lead the way. Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton were once again great, but it was clear the Lakers had a plan on defense, unlike Game 1.
Vogel praised the Lakers for a number of intangibles that helped them get the win. “That’s playoff basketball. You’re gonna make runs and we came out with great assertiveness and attention to detail and focus and defensive pressure.
“Obviously this is a great team we’re playing, even shorthanded with the way CP3 is limited, didn’t play in the fourth, still getting great play from all their guys. This is the team with the second-best record in the NBA so it’s not gonna be a situation where it’s easy to knock them out in any game. But our guys came out strong and were able to hold on.”
James and Davis were particularly great down the stretch, scoring 15 of the team’s final 17 points, catching the attention of Vogel.
“Two of the top five players in the NBA. We have a formula where those guys really carry a big scoring load, especially in crunchtime and an army of defenders and finishers around them, whether it’s finish at the 3-point line or at the rim. It’s been a good formula so far and those guys continue to show why they’re great players by stepping up down the stretch.”
Vogel then gave credit to every role player that saw the floor for their defensive effort. “We hang our hat on the defensive end. You mentioned AD’s block and Dennis’ play, KCP was great all throughout the night. To go 0-for-4 and then still have a plus-19 speaks volumes to what he’s doing on the defensive end for us.
“And Kuz was good, our centers were really good. Our centers, Drummond and Marc, player exceptionally well in particular just assisting to slow down Devin [Booker] every chance we get. But all their guys, Cam Payne and Chris Paul, all those guys, those guys were good and it was just a team effort. We threw a lot of guys in there when we got into foul trouble and we wanted to just manage that stretch of the game and we hang our hat on the defensive end. So if you get enough stops you can ride through some of those runs that the other team is on.”
While the bulk of the scoring was done by four of the five starters, defense was a full team effort. In Game 3, there are some further adjustments that can be made to limit the efficiency of Ayton, but it’s clear that Vogel is happy with what he saw already.
Now, the series shifts back to L.A. tied 1-1. If the Lakers can steal momentum in Game 3 and get a series lead, the Suns will be the ones forced to adjust to what the L.A. is doing rather than the other way around.
Vogel calls Game 2 Drummond’s most impactful
Drummond responded in perhaps the best way possible after an iffy Game 1. He finished Tuesday with 15 points and 12 rebounds on 7-of-11 shooting. Vogel called it his most impactful game with the Lakers thus far.
“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.”
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