Lakers News: LeBron James Reiterates Trust In Trevor Ariza
(Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

One of the biggest storylines from the Los Angeles Lakers’ overtime win over the New York Knicks was the re-emergence of Trevor Ariza. After struggling to stay in the rotation, Ariza was entrusted with 35 minutes of action against the Knicks, playing a massive role in helping LeBron James and Anthony Davis secure a victory.

Off the bench, Ariza finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and a block. He was also a plus-11, which was third to only James and Talen Horton-Tucker as the highest plus-minus for the game.

James — who returned from a five-game absence against the Knicks — praised Ariza for providing exactly what the team needed. “One, he’s given us length. Sometimes we played lineups where we have a lot of smaller guards, so it’s at times challenging to rebound. We had some difficulties rebounding at times but with TA, in his 35 minutes, he had eight rebounds.

“And defensively, he’s always been great,” James said. “I thought he did a heck of a number on Julius and I thought Julius was great tonight, but he still just kept his body in front of him and made him take tough shots and when he made tough shots, he still had a hand up in his face.

“And then you have to respect him on the other end because of his ability to knock down shots and he gives us space with his 6’9” frame. So the more minutes he gets, I feel like the more comfortable he gets. We’re a little older in age so the more minutes that he gets, it allows him to feel a rhythm and when the ball touches his hands, he feels in a good rhythm. I was happy for him and I told him I was extremely happy that I was able to make that pass to him late in the game when he knocked down that three. I just told him I trust him and that’s why I threw it to him.”

If the Lakers can get a consistently reliable version of Ariza, it drastically changes the types of lineups they’re able to put on the floor. Having a length wing defender that can shoot threes is a massive bonus for any team, but especially one that struggles defensively.

James cannot be relied on as the team’s primary wing defender all season, mainly due to preservation for the playoffs. Ariza was supposed to be someone who could reliably guard wings in the regular season but hasn’t been that due to injury and inconsistency.

Now, it remains to be seen what role Ariza will play moving forward after his best game of the season. With a tough task in the Milwaukee Bucks coming up, we may get a chance to see Frank Vogel’s best rotations.

Vogel praises Ariza for staying ready

James was not the only one to give props to Ariza after a strong performance. Vogel also saw great things from the veteran wing.

“He had a couple tough games when he was trying to get his legs back under him and whatnot while Stanley [Johnson] was playing well. So he fell out of the rotation for a couple games, but he’s kept a good attitude and has stayed ready. He’s done this for a long time. He knows what it takes to get it done on the defensive side of the bask and to be a catch-and-shoot shooter. He was terrific tonight.”

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