The Los Angeles Lakers were once again notified they would be without one of their starters mere hours before tipoff on Tuesday night as Marc Gasol was placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Gasol is the second Laker to miss a game due to protocols during the 2020-21 season. Without Gasol, head coach Frank Vogel was forced to start Montrezl Harrell against the Phoenix Suns.
Although the center has not played up to some fans’ expectations, he is an integral piece of the Laker rotation and Vogel touched on that after the news broke.
“It changes things a lot for us,” Vogel said. “Obviously, he’s our starting center, but all I can really say at this point is that he’s out for health and safety protocols and we’re going to start Montrezl [Harrell] and have a next-man-up mentality for tonight’s game.”
The Lakers are scheduled to play the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday and Vogel also admitted that Gasol’s status for the game is up in the air. “Still don’t know for sure,” Vogel said.
The Lakers can survive offensively without Gasol, but defensively his presence will definitely be missed as he has done a good job of deterring shots in the paint during the 2020-21 season. He has also been solid in scramble situations and directing teammates to the correct spots.
While it is unclear if Gasol will play against the Kings, the Lakers have enough talent on the roster to pull off a win and go into the All-Star break on a high note. They will also be without LeBron James, however, with him sitting out the second game of the back-to-back.
Frank Vogel confident in starting Montrezl Harrell
Harrell earned his first start of the season with both Anthony Davis and Gasol out of the lineup and figures to draw another one if the latter is forced to miss the contest against Sacramento. Vogel noted he was comfortable starting Harrell but added the frontcourt depth is a concern against bigger teams.
“I think Trezz has always been a guy that can play starter minutes,” Vogel said. “Plays a lot of minutes off the bench, so I think we’ve been prepared for that all year. Losing Marc when you don’t have Anthony [Davis], that’s where it’s the biggest concern.
“We’ll have to continue to see what our depth looks like. Like I said, this opponent plays a small second unit, so we can counter that with a small second unit of our own. When we play bigger teams, then it will be more of a bigger concern than tonight.”
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