The Los Angeles Lakers have been playing their best basketball of the season as of late, winning six of their last seven to secure a 9-6 record and a place in the In-Season Tournament quarterfinals. One surprisingly important piece of the puzzle has been backup center Christian Wood.
Wood was one of the team’s last moves of the offseason, signing him to a veteran minimum contract after weeks of rumors of mutual interest between the two sides. And while he isn’t filling up the stat sheet the way he has in prior destinations, he has been better than advertised defensively and is coming off of a 16-point, eight-rebound performance against the Utah Jazz.
And that performance comes just before he faces one of those prior destinations in the Dallas Mavericks. Wood’s Mavericks tenure left plenty to be desired after the team gave up multiple players and a draft pick to acquire him from the Houston Rockets. It led to a slightly bitter ending and Wood winding up in L.A. seeking a value rehab year.
Now, he’s preparing to face the Mavericks for the first time since his departure when the Lakers and Dallas meet in L.A. on Wednesday night. Wood preached patience when it comes to showing up against his former team.
“Just being ready. Playing my role, not trying to do too much. I know it’s my former team and I definitely want to go at those guys, but just being calm, staying patient and playing my game, letting the game come to me. Try to find a rhythm on both ends of the floor because I’ve been trying to do that for this whole season so far.”
Additionally, Wood gave some insight on some of the Mavericks key pieces, namely superstars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.
“It’s hard to stop Luka, you really [just try to] contain him. He’s gonna do what he does, Kyrie is gonna be Kyrie. I think it’s more so on us, just playing how we play. I think we’ve had a good pace, we won the first quarter, I think we won each half today. Try to do that again and repeat that, not so much worried about individual players. Just staying with the team concepts.”
In the past, Wood has been prone to doing too much when trying to prove himself on the court. But this season, he has shown veteran composure and has been a consistently positive piece for L.A. when he’s on the floor. Facing his former team is a test, but one he’s shown he can pass with his play so far this year.
Anthony Davis happy to get rest before back-to-back
The Lakers are going to be about as rested as a team can be on the second night of a back-to-back after stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis were able to rest for the entirety of the fourth quarter in Tuesday’s blowout win.
Davis spoke about the importance of that, signaling that he and James should be able to play against the Mavericks.
“Just knowing that we have another one against a tough opponent tomorrow. Obviously this team plays hard and can shoot the basketball, has a lot of great weapons, but we just wanted to come out and focus on ourselves, especially on the defensive end. We’ve been giving up a lot of transition and second-chance points so we wanted to control that and get some rebounds and get out in transition. So get some rest and line it up tomorrow.”
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