Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel decided to shorten his rotation for the team’s win over the Boston Celtics.
With the Lakers energy lacking over the last couple of games and the Celtics having a rotation full of athletic wings, Vogel decided to go with just Montrezl Harrell, Alex Caruso, Kyle Kuzma and Talen Horton-Tucker off his bench.
That group paired with LeBron James to start both the second and fourth quarters to great success. In the second they pushed the Lakers ahead to their biggest lead of the game in 10 points, while starting the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run to quickly erase a deficit.
“It’s a high energy group,” James said of the lineup. “We all pay with a pace, a level of energy and we just fed off one another. We have multiple ballhandlers, multiple guys that can slash and shooting. It works well for us and Trezz commands the paint. It works extremely well for us.”
James makes a great point as he, Caruso and Horton-Tucker are all capable of handling the ball and creating shots for others. Horton-Tucker and Kuzma can succeed as one-on-one scorers who can help take the load off James, the defense doesn’t drop off, and Harrell does great work especially against small lineups.
Most importantly as James said, the group plays with high energy, which is also something Vogel took note of as well.
“I liked the energy that they had,” he added. “Alex, Kuz, Talen and Trezz are all hard-playing dudes. We haven’t seen that lineup primarily because we haven’t seen a lot of Talen Horton-Tucker, who we want to get in there.
“But again, these are tough decisions. Wes Matthews is a heckuva player and ‘Kieff as well. Those guys are major contributors for us. We’ve got a lot of depth, so we intend to use it.”
There is no doubt that both Wesley Matthews and Markieff Morris can still provide some important things to the Lakers especially in terms of their physicality and toughness. But both have struggled so far with their 3-point shooting and haven’t been consistent thus far.
Vogel will have a lot of decisions to make throughout the season with his rotations, but this particular lineup might be one to keep in mind as the Lakers move forward, especially during times when the team needs an energy boost.
Vogel praises Caruso, Schroder for hustle on final possession
Despite the work that was done by that lineup, it took a last-second stop to clinch the victory. And it was one those high energy players in Caruso, along with Dennis Schroder, who saved the game with their hustle.
“They made a strong defensive play and got a strip, and had an opportunity to run out and win the game but Alex flies out of nowhere and gets ahead of the play. Gets a deflection, slows down Brown, and then Dennis gets back into the play as well,” Vogel said after the game.
“That’s what we’ve been talking about all trip: improving our transition defense with that type of urgency. Obviously with the game on the line, those two guys getting back and in front of the ball really saved the game.”
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