The Los Angeles Lakers finished their seven-game road trip with a win against Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks.
At 10-9, the Hawks look the part of a fringe playoff team in the Eastern Conference, but with enough talent that they couldn’t be taken lightly. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel showed this in his gameplan, again sticking with a nine-man rotation.
Meanwhile, Anthony Davis put up one of his most efficient games of the season. His production helped negate Young’s 25 points and 16 assists.
“He’s a crafty player. He’s very good at drawing fouls, can shoot the basketball with range, great free throw shooter, he’s got a nice floater when he gets in the paint,” Davis said of Young.
“He’s tough to guard and he’s small, so he’s always getting around defenders or getting in the middle of defenses. He’s a special player in this league.”
Young’s shot was not at its best, going just 7-of-15 from the field and 1-of-4 from three. He did get to the free throw line 11 times. After some struggles in the first half, the Lakers made adjustments to better contain the All-Star point guard.
They went into the matchup certainly well aware of his capability. “You have to bring Steph Curry, Dame Lillard type of attention to him because of his range and ability to shoot deep 3s off the bounce,” Vogel said.
“We just don’t want to overextend too much and make us too vulnerable on the backside. It’s going to be a balance we strike throughout the night.”
After the game, Vogel felt the perimeter defenders did a great job guarding Young with the exception of allowing him to get free throws. “A lot of speed, a lot of scrappiness, a lot of hustle,” he said of Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Dennis Schroder.
“I thought those guys did a really good job on Trae Young. We did a better job taking the ball out of his hands in the second half. He’s really, really difficult to guard and difficult to guard without fouling him.
“We gave him his average on free throw attempts, which could be better. But their team shot 17, so I think we did a good job with the rest of those guys. We took the ball out of Trae’s hands and when he got to the bigs at the rim, our guys were swarming the paint. Alex, KCP and Dennis were really good just trying to stay with Trae.”
Lakers were mindful of keeping Rondo off balance
Rajon Rondo ended up signing with the Hawks after winning a championship with the Lakers. Due to his knowledge of L.A.’s system, Vogel was worried about the strategic advantage they might’ve had. To combat that, the Lakers coach put in new wrinkles to throw at Rondo.
“Everything we did was to try to trick Rondo. We know how smart he is. We wanted to have some deception to our game because he knows all our packages,” Vogel said.
“We had a few extra tricks in there for him.”
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