Marc Gasol hasn’t always performed admirably this season, but against his former team, the 36-year-old center supplied a vintage performance showcasing the best of his abilities, putting Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel in a tough situation as Andre Drummond nears a return.
Facing the Toronto Raptors, Gasol dropped a season-high 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting to go with nine rebounds, five assists and four blocks in 27 minutes of action. Wherever the action took place, Gasol was often involved.
The all-around solid performance came off the heels of another good outing against the L.A. Clippers, despite the blowout loss. Gasol put up 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting alongside three rebounds, two assists, one steal and a block in that game.
In the absence of several players, most notably Drummond, who became the Lakers’ starting center in his debut, Gasol has improved his play, drawing praise from Vogel.
“He’s been great,” Vogel said. “Like I said, his job is to facilitate offensively and give us perimeter shooting and be a great screener and he was all three of those tonight and then obviously he’s an elite defensive center. He had a great two-way performance tonight.”
Despite Gasol’s recent form, Vogel added the plan is to start Drummond when he makes his return after suffering a toe contusion. Vogel cited the need to have Drummond familiarized with the Lakers’ scheme while remaining adamant that he, Gasol and Montrezl Harrell will all play important roles at the center position.
“We’re going to start Andre. That’s what we signed him here for. First of all, we need to give him a ton of minutes to get him acclimated in our system. There’s only X amount of games before the playoffs and he’ll be our starter.
“But like I said, we said this the whole time through, we need all three of those guys and all three of them are really good players. They’re going to help us win a championship. But no, it doesn’t change that.”
Vogel discusses Lakers playing Gasol and Harrell together
It hasn’t happened often this season, but playing Gasol and Harrell at the same time could alleviate the issue the Lakers face of finding more minutes for the former.
Because of Gasol’s ability to step outside the perimeter and knock down 3-pointers at a 36% clip while anchoring the paint on the other end, Harrell fits right in as someone who primarily occupies the paint on offense and can help out on the perimeter on defense.
Vogel thinks this could be a possible remedy for the Lakers moving forward.
“Yeah, it’s a lineup I think can work,” Vogel said. “We haven’t had a need to go to that up to this point in the season, but it’s definitely something we’re going to look at. [T]he way it would work is Marc is basically offensively the four with Trezz being a five and defensively Marc is the five and Trezz is the four.”
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