The Los Angeles Lakers truly looked like two different teams in each half in Tuesday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings. After an uninspiring first half, the Lakers absolutely dominated the final two quarters, outscoring the Kings by 34 points with the change in energy seemingly coming due to a halftime speech by head coach Frank Vogel.
Usually calm in his demeanor, Vogel spoke about needing to light a fire under the Lakers and it worked in a major way as the Lakers went from down nine at the half to a 25-point victory in the end. Dwight Howard played a big role in the victory posting a double-double off the bench and he admitted that everything his head coach said in the locker room was spot on.
“Coach was pretty upset, but I think his whole point was stop talking about winning a championship and not giving the correct effort, and he’s right. Spot on,” Howard said after the victory. “You can’t keep saying we want to win, we want to accomplish these different things if we’re not willing to put in the work and the effort and play together. I think in the second half we did that. I think that was one of the best third quarters we’ve had all year. It was because of the energy. The energy was all in the right place.”
Howard would continue on about the need for the Lakers to build on this performance. “Before the game, Coach said this was a revenge game, and the second half we just came out with a lot of energy and intensity on the defensive end, which allowed our guys like Russ and AD to get downhill to the basket and open everything up for our shooters,” the big man added.
“We got to continue to play defense like that for the rest of the season. One game at a time. We got to build on tonight and the effort that we had, the communication that we had was probably the best all season.”
Russell Westbrook echoed the words of Howard about the effect that Vogel’s speech had on the Lakers as a whole.
“For the team, I thought it was good,” Westbrook said. “It got guys going, got their minds right. And honestly for me personally, I already knew I was playing sh***y, so I knew I had to step it up anyway in order for us to have a chance to be able to win the game. That’s why there’s two halves in this game. The tale of two halves will tell the difference in tonight’s game.”
With Westbrook and Anthony Davis leading the way, the Lakers still have more than enough to succeed even while LeBron James is away due to coronavirus (COVID-19). The Lakers have spoken numerous times about building on these kinds of performances, but have rarely followed through. Perhaps Vogel’s speech was what was truly needed to begin a turnaround to this season.
Vogel felt need to ‘light a fire’ under Lakers at halftime
The Lakers looked like they were on their way to another disappointing loss, but Vogel was not going to allow them to go down without a fight. The head coach admitted that he had to light a fire underneath this Lakers team and it worked.
“Every now and then, a coach has to light a fire under his team and today was one of those games,” he said.
“We weren’t giving the necessary effort in transition defense and with our pick-and-roll coverages. We talked specifically about tightening the screws on all day throughout our pregame and it wasn’t there in the first half, so sometimes you have to let them hear about it and it was the spirit at halftime and those guys responded.”
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