Head coach Frank Vogel made some surprising decisions ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 114-111 loss to the New Pelicans.
Avery Bradley returned to the starting lineup on Friday, for the first time since Feb. 12. Dwight Howard remained among the starters despite Anthony Davis’ return from a foot injury.
Meanwhile, Austin Reaves and Talen Horton-Tucker spent the whole game on the bench, even though each of them had clocked in 23 and 19 minutes per night, respectively, over the previous 10 games.
Vogel explained he adjusted the rotation based on who he thought would be the best matchup for the Pelicans’ CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, and Jonas Valanciunas.
“That’s a playoff series, this is a playoff game for us,” he said. “So you use the roster however you see fit in terms of that matchup. Obviously CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram as a tandem and Valanciunas, those three guys are as good as just about any three you can put together in the league, that’s why they’re one of the hottest teams in the league.
“That’s why we liked what Avery could bring to the table, using Dwight on Jonas as much as possible, Stanley some and [Austin Reaves and Talen Horton-Tucker] fell out of the rotation because of the matchup.”
Ingram ended the game with 29 points, shooting 10-for-17 (58.8%) from the field. McCollum chipped in 32 points, drilling four triples on eight attempts and making 52.2% of his shots overall.
Vogel describes Lakers’ mindset going into final five games of regular season
The loss to the Pelicans placed L.A. 1.0 games behind the San Antonio Spurs in 10th and 3.0 games away from New Orleans. However, Vogel vowed to try and “win as many games as they can,” hoping it’ll be enough for the Lakers to qualify for the Play-In Tournament.
“It’s gonna be tough to catch [the Pelicans] obviously now with the lead they have and the tiebreaker, but we have plenty of time to win as many games as we can down the stretch and see what happens with San Antonio,” he said.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!