A big reason for the Los Angeles Lakers’ dominant win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night was the play of Avery Bradley, who had a season-high 23 points while making an impressive six of eight 3-point attempts.
Even though Bradley joined the Lakers just before the start of the season, he has started a majority of their games because of his defensive toughness.
While Bradley’s play has been up and down offensively, he expressed appreciation to Frank Vogel and the Lakers coaching staff for continuing to have faith in him.
“It means a lot,” Bradley said after the win over the Thunder. “Coach [Vogel] is a big part of my success here. Not only him, but the entire coaching staff being able to give me that confidence to go out there and perform on both ends of the floor.”
As previously mentioned, Bradley’s main calling card for the Lakers is his defense, and that was again the case on Friday when he defended Shai Gilgeous-Alexander extremely well. The Thunder point guard had already torched the Lakers twice this season, so Bradley revealed that defending him was a focus for L.A. going into this game.
“For sure. I feel like he was a focal point for us tonight. The last two games he played extremely well and I just wanted to take the challenge and come out and try to make every play hard on him. But it was definitely a team effort at the same time. But for me personally, I did try to take that challenge.”
Bradley also elaborated on the difficulties of defending a player of Gilgeous-Alexander’s caliber while also trying to help out his teammates.
“It’s challenging because you can’t help as much and I think sometimes that’s hard for me, trying to learn how much I can help and how much I can’t because usually every night I have that assignment. But I’m learning in every single game, I’m learning how to play with my teammates and I think that comes with building chemistry.
“There’s been a lot of different lineups out there and I think Coach is trying to find ways that we can learn each other and that’s a big part of it. I’m learning every single game and I’m starting to feel more comfortable.”
Vogel gives praise to Bradley
It’s no secret that Vogel is a fan of Bradley’s game, as evident by him going from not being on the team to starting almost immediately. Vogel shared his praise for Bradley after his big game against the Thunder, emphasizing that while he is a defense-first player, he is also capable of filling it up on the other end.
“Anything we get offensively is a bonus,” Vogel said. “But he’s a guy that’s averaged 18 or 20 points a game in this league at a certain point in his career. It’s just how much are we going to move the basketball. If we’re going to move the basketball and we’re going to let the ball find energy and find the open man, guys like Avery are going to have big shooting nights, and we’re always telling him to be aggressive offensively.
“And I don’t know what Shai’s final line was. 11 points and 4 assists? After what he did to us in the first two games, Avery Bradley was fantastic on the ball with him. So again, the defensive metrics that can go into a guy like Avery’s performance in team defensive rating, there’s a lot of variables in play there. And to underrate what he brings to our group’s energy is misleading, and he had a great two-way performance for us tonight.”
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