Without Anthony Davis in the lineup and Alex Caruso also out, the Los Angeles Lakers were forced into their second consecutive overtime game but pulled out a win against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Both teams were shorthanded, but it appeared the Lakers were going to lose due to being lethargic for most of the night. The effects from the double-overtime win against the Detroit Pistons was apparent as they seemingly did not have their legs underneath them and were unable to get much going from beyond the arc.
Los Angeles shot an abysmal 9-of-38 on their 3-pointers, with most players coming up short on attempts. However, Wesley Matthews was able to come in and inject some much needed shooting as he nailed 4-of-5 from distance.
“Exceptional performance by Wes. That’s the simplest way to put it. Incredible energy on both sides of the ball but in particular defensively,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said. “In a game where this is a duck your head and drive the paint offensive attack and they have a lot of screening action.
“You need as many guys as you can that can contain the basketball. Two of our best containment guys — A.D. and Alex being out — we definitely needed his toughness on that side of the ball. And then he obviously hit some big 3s on a night where we couldn’t throw it in the ocean. He was great.
“And I thought ‘Kieff, true pro, stayed ready, played a really good basketball game as well. Didn’t get as many offensive opportunities but both of those guys were crucial in us getting this W.”
Matthews had not seen the floor the past four games as Vogel opted to shorten his rotation. The veteran made good on his minutes as he came in and instantly gave the team the energy boost they so desperately needed on both ends.
The rise of Talen Horton-Tucker has been a welcomed development, but it has come at the cost of Matthews’ minutes and role on the Lakers. However, as shown in the win against Oklahoma City, he is more than capable of stepping in and producing on any given night and that has to give Vogel some relief.
Vogel and the coaching staff are actively trying to keep players like Matthews involved, and after his recent performance it stands to reason that he will see the floor more in the near future.
Vogel looking to keep Morris, Matthews sharp
Players are expected to miss a few games during the regular season, and with the Lakers holding onto their place atop the standings, Vogel may have more opportunities to get guys like Markieff Morris and Matthews more run.
“Well it’s definitely good to keep those guys sharp because I have been looking at opportunities to do that,” Vogel said.
“If we stay healthy over long stretches, then we would look to give a guy a night off. Those guys are important players for us, and we want to make sure they have the ability to stay sharp. So there is a silver lining there, but definitely prefer for all of our guys to be healthy.”
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