Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel made a noteworthy change to the starting lineup after the team’s third consecutive loss. Hoping to avoid a four-game skid against the No. 1 seeded Utah Jazz, Vogel turned to Markieff Morris and Talen Horton-Tucker to replace Kyle Kuzma and Wesley Matthews.
The new-look lineup held their own against the Jazz’s dominant starting five. The initial round of substitutions for both sides came at the 6:43 mark of the first quarter with the game tied at 13. It was the opposite of the usual slow starts that the Lakers had become prone to.
“Just to give us a little more diverse offensive attack with the ability to play through ‘Kieff a little bit in the post,” Vogel explained of the lineup changes. “Having a ballhandler out there with ‘Bron was something we really wanted to do after the overtime game the other night.
“So Talen or Alex was out there the whole night with him. Just giving us a little bit of a different look after losing three in a row.”
While L.A. wound up getting blown out, it was not the fault of the starting lineup. Outside of LeBron James and Horton-Tucker — who were a minus-20 and minus-16, respectively — the starters actually fared better than most of the bench unit.
It’s clear the Lakers desperately need to get healthy and get to the All-Star break without doing even more damage to their record. They play just four games before a nine-day gap, but have to face the Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings in the process.
Lakers hopeful Schroder returns Friday
Dennis Schroder — who was required to undergo a seven-day quarantine as a part of the NBA’s health and safety protocols — has missed the Lakers’ last four games. They have lost all four of those, making his return all the more imperative.
If Schroder continues to test negative, he should be back in the Lakers lineup on Friday night. They’ll need his defense and shot creation desperately as they take on Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers.
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