During the 2019-20 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers have embraced the idea of stepping up when players are out and that concept was on full display in their road win against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
They played hard and smart on both ends and weathered a few runs to stay well in front for almost the entire night.
It was a total team win and head coach Frank Vogel discussed how pleased he was with their performance, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Extremely proud and really extremely happy for the guys that — in particular like Quinn and Troy and Duds — that don’t play every night and they have to stay ready which is a difficult assignment when you’re not practicing and when games are going by and you’re not playing. For those guys to stay ready and come in and contribute at the level that they did tonight… all three of them played fantastic and were a big part of the win.
But really happy for everybody having a next man up mindset with our two big guns out and Danny out. First quarter, our guys came out on fire. Playing with great energy, great pace, and a great defensive proficiency and just a solid win for our guys.”
On the second night of a back-to-back situation, Los Angeles would have had several plausible excuses if they fell short, but they persevered and managed to outplay an Oklahoma City team that is playing well as of late. Their performance speaks volumes about their ability to play through adversity, something that should be attributed to both the coaching staff, James, and Davis.
While the Thunder provided a slight scare late in the fourth quarter with one final run, the Lakers did not flinch and instead executed on offense to put the game away. Kyle Kuzma in particular shined in his featured role on the offensive end, pouring in 36 points and showing why Los Angeles may be better off keeping him rather than trading him.
Now at 32-7, the purple and gold have built some distance between them and the rest of the Western Conference, a sign that the team’s two All-Star players may be able to rest down the stretch of the season. They should be able to extend their current eight-game winning streak when they play the Cleveland Cavaliers.