With the 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend right around the corner, it would not have been surprising for the Los Angeles Lakers to go into their matchup against the Denver Nuggets and struggle as most teams already have the break on their minds.
However, the Lakers overcame a double-digit first-half deficit and defeated the Nuggets in overtime, 120-116.
The All-Star duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis led the way as James finished with a triple-double (32 points, 14 assists, and 12 rebounds) while Davis recorded a double-double (33 points, 10 rebounds) to go along with two blocks and two steals.
While James and Davis deserve most of the credit for the team’s impressive win, it was the bench play of Dwight Howard and Alex Caruso that gave them major lift as they were able to come up with huge plays on both ends of the floor that turned the tide in their favor.
Head coach Frank Vogel praised Howard and Caruso’s effort, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“I think Dwight and Alex really gave us a lift. Dwight with his matchup on The Joker… the physicality with which he played. And Alex is our secret weapon. He comes in and usually provides a spark off the bench and I think those two guys were pivotal.”
When asked about Caruso’s role going forward, Vogel admitted he could see increased playing time:
“Yeah, it’s a possibility for it expanding. Granted, right now he’s my secret weapon. I break him out when I need him. He certainly earned a rotational spot and he’s in the rotation. Like I said, when we need him to grow into a bigger role he delivers.”
After an encouraging finish to the 2018-19 NBA season, Caruso has turned himself into a pivotal member of Vogel’s rotation as he has a knack for making winning plays when it matters. While he does not possess the same court vision and playmaking ability of typical point guards, he is an excellent defender and knows when to cut off ball.
Despite Caruso’s solid play throughout the season, Vogel has opted to play Rajon Rondo as the primary backup to James as he is able to bring the ball up the floor and organize the offense. However, his inability to stay in front of his man on defense and knock down open shots has hindered the Lakers, paving the way for Caruso to see more floor time.
The All-Star break will be a good opportunity for the purple and gold to recharge and hopefully they come out ready to close out the season on a high note.