The end of the 2022-23 season is right around the corner, and the Los Angeles Lakers are in a fight to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Lakers did well to keep themselves in the Play-In Tournament race, winning against a shorthanded Phoenix Suns squad. Anthony Davis, D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves carried the offensive load, while players like Jarred Vanderbilt stepped up in the moments they were needed.
Vanderbilt drew the task of guarding Devin Booker but praised the Lakers’ collective effort to contain the star guard as much as possible “I just like being the point of attack, being on the ball. Just trying to make those guys uncomfortable. I think we did a great job of that from the beginning of the game. Obviously we let him get going with some foul trouble and free throws in the second half to kind of get him going, but for the most part, I think we did a great job as a team. We had a great game plan and I think we executed, for the most part, very well.”
It felt like a playoff game at Crypto.com Arena the way the fans exploded after every big moment and Vanderbilt emphasized that he and Los Angeles have no choice but to treat each game like its do-or-die. “For sure. From here on out, we don’t have any time to waste. No games to waste,” Vanderbilt said.
“So every game, we’re playing it like it’s our last. So just coming out with that mindset, coming out with that approach. I feel like we need it. I feel like tonight we did that, we came out, we executed, we played hard, we played together and like I said, from here on out, we got to treat every game like that because at this point we’re fighting for our lives. Yeah, we got to have that approach every single game.”
With the Lakers not guaranteed a postseason spot, Darvin Ham believes his group is as locked in as ever which lends credence to Vanderbilt’s comments. Hopefully they keep that energy up, especially with a massively important game on Friday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Jarred Vanderbilt believes Austin Reaves fit in seamlessly as starter
Austin Reaves has been playing the best basketball of his career as of late and was rewarded with a promotion to the starting lineup. Vanderbilt was happy for his teammate and said the transition went about as well as it could’ve.
“Seamlessly. He’s a great player on both ends. Him being able to put pressure on the rim and being able to facilitate, pass the ball. And then on the defensive end, being able to guard as well. He fit in seamlessly for us. He played great tonight.”
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