The Los Angeles Lakers are officially in the win column after an impressive win over the Utah Jazz in their 2019-20 NBA season home opener.
The Lakers won this game on the back of their defense as they were able to hold a potent Jazz offense to only 86 points, which is a markedly vast improvement over their showing against the Los Angeles Clippers where they gave up 112 points.
Head coach Frank Vogel opened up the second half with Davis at center and in his walk-off interview, he explained what went into the lineup change and how it affected the rest of the game.
“Just trying to run, keep Gobert out of the paint. And it helped offensively with me and LeBron’s pick-and-roll, so Coach made an adjustment that was good for us for this game,” Davis said.
“We were able to create some separation in the point department and then I think besides all that, we did a great job defensively. Holding a team like that who only scored 86 points… that’s what we’re trying to build on is defense, hard-point defense. The more we can defend like this the easier it’ll be for us.”
It has been well-documented just how effective Davis is when he plays center and it was apparent throughout the rest of the game against Utah as he made his presence felt on both ends. The 26-year-old affected several shots at the rim when challenged and was then able to sprint down the floor and apply pressure on the Jazz’s transition defense.
He was also able to drag Rudy Gobert out of the paint which resulted in clearer driving lanes for James and the rest of the guards.
General manager Rob Pelinka mentioned in the offseason they re-signed JaVale McGee and brought back Dwight Howard in an effort to keep Davis healthy enough throughout the season, but there are going to be games that call for the 26-year-old to play center.
His impact on both ends can not be overstated and is arguably the biggest weapon for the purple and gold going forward.
While Vogel will likely opt to play a traditional big next to Davis as much as possible, it was encouraging to see what the Lakers look like with their new All-Star player playing what is most likely his best position.