Kent Bazemore saw more on-floor action in the 107-104 victory over the Dallas Mavericks after spending most of the last month of out the rotation.
Bazemore averaged 26.5 minutes on the floor in the first 10 games of the 2021-22 season, starting in all of them. But as Malik Monk, Austin Reaves and then Talen Horton-Tucker (following his return from a thumb injury) saw their roles grow, the 32-year-old veteran gradually became a fringe player.
He didn’t even enter the floor in the eight of the last 12 games, spending just over six minutes in action on average in the other four.
Nearly two-thirds of that time came in the clash against the Mavericks. Head coach Frank Vogel said he had been looking forward to reintroducing Bazemore into the rotation prior to the recent victory in Dallas and gave him credit for not checking out after falling out of the rotation.
“Obviously he struggled to start the season and we decided to go with some other guys, guys like Austin and Talen were getting healthy, and he fell out of the rotation for a little while,” Vogel said before the Wednesday game.
“But he’s remained very locked in, very engaged in what we’re doing. He’s one of our most vocal guys in film sessions barking out coverages, even when he’s not in the game or on the clip. And he honors his work, he comes in and does his lifts, he gets his shots, he practiced with the G League the other day and he stays ready.
“So I have a lot of confidence he’s gonna come in and help us win tonight.”
The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the NBA could lead to Bazemore earning even more minutes on the floor. Five Lakers have entered the health and safety protocols this week, including Monk and Horton-Tucker.
Monk has since then tested out of the protocols and will be available for Friday’s away game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Lakers plan to sign Isaiah Thomas if hardship exemption approved
Besides increasing the role of the Lakers’ fringe players, the franchise wants to use the NBA’s hardship exception to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the team.
If approved, L.A. is reportedly planning to reunite with Isaiah Thomas, who has recently put up a 42-point performance for the Grand Rapids Gold in the G League.
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