In a surprise, the Los Angeles Lakers managed to snap their three-game skid against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night, winning, 93-89, in a low-scoring affair.
Without LeBron James and Dennis Schroder in the lineup, the Laker offense predictably struggled to score the basketball but they turned in one of their finest defensive performances of the 2020-21 season as they held the Nuggets to below 44% shooting and 25% from the 3-point line. Anthony Davis looked like the player he was in the 2020 NBA playoffs, taking advantage of his size around the basket and wreaking absolute havoc on the defensive end.
One of the storylines of the night was Marc Gasol, who got extra run as Andre Drummond struggled with foul trouble for most of the night. Gasol delivered as all his field goals came from beyond the arc en route to 10 points in 17 minutes of the bench.
Even though he has been out of head coach Frank Vogel’s rotation, Gasol spoke to the importance of Los Angeles letting go of any egos and focusing on the right things instead.
“I think we have to start thinking more as a team instead of mentioning guys,” Gasol said. “It’s more who we are as a team and who we are going to be. Everyone tied to one another, regardless of your situation. You zero minutes, you play 20 minutes. The theme of success is everyone is everyone’s success.
“When you go out there, you try to do as best as possible to help the team because if you help the team more times than not we’re going to win a lot of games. I think we kind of have to forget about the players and the situations and individual guys and think more as a whole of who we’re going to be as a team moving forward.”
Despite his great showing against the Nuggets, Gasol emphasized how much the team needed this victory and how they looked cohesive out on the floor together.
“Any win is always good. I think after the news yesterday that LeBron [James] was not going to play tonight and Dennis [Schroder] had his situation. Our situation as a team, I think we lost six out of seven games. You have that urgency and today was great because you felt the urgency as a whole as a team. You felt it.
“It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t great. The ball didn’t go in all the time, but the kind of community amongst the guys was great and the cheering for one another. I really enjoy when we work as a team and we protect in one another out there on both ends of the floor. That’s beautiful basketball.”
The center situation is far from ideal for Gasol and the other big men, but it goes to show how well the Lakers play when everyone buys in and embraces their role when they play. Gasol’s play forced Vogel to play him down the stretch while Drummond and Montrezl Harrell played sparingly in the second half.
It was also another reminder of the versatility and options the Lakers will have come playoff time as they can mix and match their personnel to give them advantages against their opponent. Gasol knows that he may not play every night, but will be ready to contribute whenever his number is called.
“I’m going to try to not mention situations. I think it’s about the team and how we all try to help the team be a better team. That’s all. One night it’s going to be some guys and the other night it’s going to be other guys. To me, it’s about that. If the team does well, we’re all doing well. You’re playing zero minutes or 35 minutes, you’re doing your job every night.
“I’m not going to sit here and tell you the things I can do that other guys can’t. There’s just some things that they do that is impossible for me to do. It’s just physically impossible. I could try every day to catch lobs and be above the rim all night long. That’s just never been that way. There’s things that I do that are a little bit different, but it’s about the team and how we all put that priority and goal amongst everything and winning. That’s it.”
Although the upcoming schedule only gets harder, it was good to see the Purple and Gold break out of their slump and Gasol being a main contributor in making that happen.
Gasol appreciative of Kuzma for advocating for him to play
Gasol is one of the best teammates in the league, so it was no surprise to hear him thank Kyle Kuzma’s for his comments calling for the center to play more, comparing himself to Mr. Wolf from Pulp Fiction.
“No, I was not. He mentioned something after the game, but I was not aware. I told him I’m fine on that Mr. Wolf role. You just come in whenever things don’t go great and kind of help everyone, so I expected it. I’ll try to do the best as possible at that role.”
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