The Los Angeles Lakers earned one of their biggest wins of the season on Sunday afternoon when they erased a 27-point deficit to beat the Dallas Mavericks.
In addition to the greatness of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the biggest reason the Lakers won the game was the play of Jarred Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt was everywhere for the Lakers, finishing with 15 points, 17 rebounds (eight offensive) and four steals in 27 minutes. He also got the assignment of guarding Luka Doncic and did what he could to slow down the Mavericks superstar, using his length and athleticism to force him into tough shots.
After the game, Vanderbilt discussed his mindset going into a game like this one where he is defending a player of Doncic’s caliber, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“My mindset was just to make him uncomfortable. He’s a hell of a player when he’s comfortable and can get in his rhythm and get into a zone. So I was trying to disrupt that and just pick him up 94, just making him work. I knew throughout the course of the game he was gonna get tired and fatigued just bringing the ball up and down the whole court and then try to make a move after I already cut eight seconds off the clock. So I knew he was gonna get tired but my thing was just get up in him and force him to drive and just be physical with him and make him uncomfortable. I think in the second half we did a good job of that without fouling.”
Vanderbilt added that he loves the opportunity to guard the opposing team’s best player every night and feels that can be his role on this team:
“I do. I like that challenge every single night being able to guard the best players no matter 1-5. I think I’m capable of doing that and I think that’s my value and impact on this team. I look forward to those matchups every single night.”
A player like Vanderbilt who can do the dirty work is exactly what this Lakers team has been missing the last couple of years. Even when the Lakers went down by 27 in the first half, he never stopped fighting and bringing energy to his team, which he says was his focus:
“I really was just trying to up the intensity, be a little bit more physical. I knew we needed it at that point so just trying to bring the energy, bring the effort and just tried to change the game momentum-wise. Obviously shots weren’t falling early on for us so we were able to get out and run and crash the glass and get some steals, force some turnovers and that kind of just changed the game for us.”
Although the returns are very early, the Lakers look like they made some awesome traded as the deadline. Vanderbilt was not the headliner of the deal that also brought back D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley, but it’s clear that he was an absolute steal for the Lakers and someone that will hopefully be part of the organization for a long time.
James’ ankle was ‘a little sore’ after Mavericks game
Unfortunately, not everything was perfect for the Lakers on Sunday afternoon as James reaggravated his injured ankle when he stepped on Dwight Powell’s foot.
He was able to finish out the game, but James admitted that the ankle was feeling sore after, which puts his status for Tuesday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies in question.
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