Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel deployed his sixth different starting lineup of the season to face the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, which notably included Carmelo Anthony and the returning Talen Horton-Tucker.
Horton-Tucker started for the Lakers in his 2021-22 debut, coming back from the thumb injury that kept him out of the game since the preseason.
Meanwhile, Anthony had been coming off the bench for L.A. since the beginning of the new campaign. The 37-year-old shot 52% from behind the 3-point line, averaging 17.6 points per game over the first 11 games of the campaign.
Anthony cooled off in the two games before making his Sunday start, shooting just 15.4% from downtown. Nevertheless, head coach Frank Vogel thought the clash with Spurs made for a good opportunity to take a look at how the 10-time All-Star would fare among the starters.
“It just made sense,” Vogel said. “When LeBron went out, we thought about sliding AD to the five, but with LeBron out and with Trevor out, we liked the rhythm that Melo had coming off the bench and I just think it’s time to look at him in the starting lineup.”
Vogel previously joked that the buzz that Anthony’s cameos generated among the Staples Center crowd kept the forward out of the starting line-up. The head coach has now said he genuinely didn’t want to mess up Anthony’s fine shooting off-the-bench and decided to move him to the starting unit after the Year 19 veteran appeared to have slowed down in recent games.
Asked whether Anthony’s improved defense played a factor in his promotion to the starting lineup, Vogel said: “That has nothing to do with it. His buy-in has been great all year. I think buy-in is the better word than growth. That’s been great all year.
“Like I said, as soon as Bron went out, we knew that was the logical move but he had just had that momentum of coming in off the bench that at the time, we didn’t want to mess with that rhythm.
“But the way we played last game, I feel like we needed to shift some things and give us a different look, and now is the time. When LeBron comes back, he’ll go back to his bench role.”
Vogel: LeBron James’s status is ‘day-to’day’ as he ‘looks good’ in individual workouts
Vogel has provided an update on LeBron James’ recovery from his abdominal injury. The 36-year-old forward has resumed on-court drills and responded well to an increase in physical activity.
Vogel added that James is considered “day-to-day” ahead of the Monday clash against the Chicago Bulls.
“[H]e looks good, he’s moving,” the head coach said. “He hasn’t done a full practice or contact yet but he’s looking good, moving around in his individual work.”
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