Carmelo Anthony has been a surprisingly big piece of the Los Angeles Lakers offense through the team’s first seven games. He has scored double figures in five games already and has hit 20 or more points three times. This includes a 23-point performance on 8-of-14 shooting in the Lakers’ 95-85 win over the Houston Rockets.
However, his Rockets performance was not just great because of his offense. His defense was as good as it’s been in several years, collecting two steals and four blocks while making several savvy plays to disrupt the Rockets’ offense. Yes, the Rockets are not in the business of winning games this year, but it’s an encouraging sign from Anthony nonetheless.
Anthony is finally starting to gain his footing within the Lakers’ defensive schemes, or so he felt following the win. “Just sticking with the principles and getting more comfortable with our schemes as a team and what we’re trying to do,” Anthony said.
“Just being in the right position. Just doing what I’m asked. If it’s my time to be the guy that pulls over on the defense, I have to trust that somebody is going to have my back, and they have to trust that I’m going to be able to make that play. It was just a matter of becoming more comfortable with what we’re trying to do and finding it. Finding it by any means.”
Learning and trusting one another is going to be a huge point of emphasis for the Lakers over the next couple months. And now, Frank Vogel is starting to view Anthony as someone he can trust on that end of the floor. “I didn’t expect him to have a defensive performance like he did tonight. He was great,” Vogel said of Anthony. “Forget about the steals, blocks and strips, he’s always good with his hands. He’s in the right position.
“When you watch him on tape coming into this year, the effort is there. He plays hard on that side of the ball and we have to protect him in certain ways. We’re figuring that out and landed in some good spots with that.
“We’re asking him to do things within our system, like lowman collisions, which he was great with tonight. He’s willing to do all these things, he can do all these things and when he’s providing that kind of performance on the defensive side of the ball, he’s a huge part of our win tonight.”
Anthony was absolutely the MVP of the Lakers’ win over the Rockets, and he’s earning the large role he has with the team to begin the year.
LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook shot a combined 22-for-58 from the field, just 37.9%. When they struggle, it’s nice to know that the Lakers have a player like Anthony who can cover for them without being a complete liability on the other end of the floor.
Vogel explains decision to move Davis to center in starting lineup
The Rockets win was the unveiling of a new starting lineup in which Avery Bradley replaced DeAndre Jordan, moving Davis to the center position. Vogel explained the decision after the game.
“We’ve been talking about certain points in the season to explore our roster flexibility and the way Houston plays, it seemed like a good opportunity to look at that,” Vogel said.
It may not be a permanent choice, but their starting lineup was a combined plus-10 in the first six minutes of the first and third quarters.
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