The Los Angeles Lakers squeezed by the shorthanded Phoenix Suns with a 100-95 victory on Thursday night, and they did so despite an abysmal 5-for-29 showing from beyond the arc. In their season-opening loss to the Denver Nuggets, they shot the ball at a better rate from three — 10-for-29 — but still sat below 35% on the evening. This includes a total effort of 0-for-9 from deep for point guard Gabe Vincent.
Vincent shot 0-for-4 in the opener and 0-for-5 against the Suns, starting in as cold a stretch as possible after finishing the 2022-23 season on a high note in the NBA Finals. Vincent has always been known as a streaky shooter from 3-point range, and the Lakers are getting the lower end of that as they begin a championship-hopeful season.
Vincent, for one, isn’t concerned about his lack of production from beyond the arc just yet. He’s also not worried about the team’s 25.8% 3-point percentage through two games.
“I thought we took some pretty good shots. We got some good looks from 3 but they didn’t go down. They will, in time. I trust that they will,” Vincent said. “Guys are continuing to put work in, myself included. It’s 50/50 when it leaves your hands at the end of the day, you know what I mean? It either goes in or it doesn’t but we did a good job of not letting our offense control our defense and that’s a great step to take.”
The Lakers certainly did not let their offense control their defense, holding Kevin Durant and the Suns to 95 points and 11 in the fourth quarter.
“Just a lot of focus, knowing what we got to do with assignments defensively,” Vincent said. “Rebounding, especially, and just competing at a high level.
“Just seeing a lot of effort. We’re scrambling around, fighting, clawing, scratching, just trying to find ways to win.”
The former Miami Heat guard wanted to stay humble after the first win of the season and focused on what can be worked on moving forward.
“I don’t know if satisfied is the word, but we’re happy with the effort that we finished with. Obviously it’s better to learn stuff we’re trying to grow through a W, so that helps.”
Vincent is the type of player who will continue fighting and working hard even if he’s in a cold stretch offensively. That’s part of why the Lakers felt it was the right decision to use nearly their entire mid-level exception to bring him in this offseason.
If the 3-pointer does turn around for Vincent, it will become even clearer why the Lakers valued him so highly in free agency.
Jarred Vanderbilt to be re-evaluated in two weeks
Jarred Vanderbilt’s heel injury turned out to be a larger deal than initially stated, as he’s gone from day-to-day to now being out for over a month. The Lakers recently announced that he’ll be re-evaluated in two weeks before progressing toward a return.
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