Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel turned to some veteran faces in the team’s win over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night. After several games seeing little to no on-court action, Marc Gasol and Wesley Matthews were suddenly key contributors. The former arguably was the player of the game behind Anthony Davis.
Gasol was not only incredible on defense against Nikola Jokic, but he also facilitated the offense like a true point guard. He finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a block while Matthews had eight points and a steal while shooting 3-for-3 from the field.
Vogel credited both veterans for staying ready when the team needed them. “We got a deep team and everybody has to stay ready. I was happy for Wes to come in and perform the way he did on both sides of the ball knocking down shots, but really playing some tough defense, which we’ve missed the last few games. I don’t think our defense has been where we want it to be the last few games.
“Marc and Wes are two of our better defenders and to have those guys back in there set a great tone for us. It’s just one of those things where we’re going to need everybody on this team. We have a deep team and certain nights your number is going to be called and certain nights it’s not, but a great testament to those guys staying ready.”
Vogel then focused specifically on Gasol and why he is so valuable to the Lakers. “Marc Gasol is a winner,” Vogel said. “He understands what it takes to win at a high level and that type of commitment and sacrifice and whatever-the-team-needs attitude is what’s necessary for us to win a championship. That’s what we’re asking of him and all of our guys really. For him to be in that headspace and having that attitude is just something that’s really going to benefit us.”
In the Lakers’ 18 games since signing Andre Drummond, Gasol has only played in nine but has had a positive plus-minus in six. It’s clear that his skillset is extremely valuable to the Lakers when he is on the floor.
Having a center who can space the floor and make intelligent plays on offense and defense is a rare commodity in the NBA, and the Lakers simply have not been utilizing one of those talents. Perhaps this performance will give Vogel and his staff something to think about as they move towards the postseason.
Vogel reiterates Lakers will use all three centers
Vogel has often said that the Lakers are going to need all three of Drummond, Gasol and Montrezl Harrell in the postseason. He reiterated this point after the Lakers win over the Nuggets. “He’s a hell of a weapon. So is [Andre] Drummond and so is Trezz (laughs). They’re what they call good problems for a coach.
“Drumm is the guy that’s newest here, so I think it’s important for him to get as many minutes as he can during this stretch to get comfortable with everything we’re trying to do to look at matchups and figure out the best ways to utilize his skillset because we’re going to need all three of those guys.”
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