Los Angeles Lakers forward Trevor Ariza has played in five straight games for the first time this season, slowly regaining his in-game rhythm after spending over two months on the sidelines.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) interrupted Ariza’s comeback from an ankle injury, ruling him out of play again just two games after the 36-year-old’s season debut on Dec. 19.
But since he was cleared to return, Ariza’s helped the Lakers go on to a four-game winning streak, their longest this season, before playing a part in the impressive but short-lived 21-0 comeback push in the fourth quarter of the 127-119 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
“I think Trevor is coming along,” Vogel said of Ariza’s progress. “Obviously we knew it was gonna take a little bit of time for him to start getting his legs under him, but we’re seeing some real positive things from him just in how he’s moving, the comfortability he’s getting with what we’re doing on both sides of the ball.
“I really like what he’s doing offensively from a standpoint of bringing that 3-point line spacing, being aggressive in catch-and-shoot situations and then being really efficient in re-drive situations putting the ball on the deck, not always to score, but to create for others and he’s created a lot of good offense for us.”
Ariza recorded 1.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.0 per night in those five games, making one start.
Vogel previously said he had envisioned Ariza play a major role for the Lakers in the 2021-22 campaign before the forward suffered his ankle injury in the preseason.
Vogel discusses further changes to rotation after Anthony Davis’ return
The Lakers are still awaiting the return of Anthony Davis and Kendrick Nunn, who remain unavailable with knee injuries. Vogel said both will likely receive a lot of rotation minutes each night when they come back, including Davis retaking his spot as L.A.’s main center.
“I think you’re gonna see Anthony playing a lot at the five and then when Anthony is out, we have the lineups that we’ve been playing right now with LeBron basically playing point center,” Vogel said.
“It is a direction that I think we’re gonna land with this group towards the second half of the season and one we’re seeing obvious benefits for right now that we feel like we’re gonna be even more enhanced when Anthony gets back.”
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