The Los Angeles Lakers suddenly lost three players and two coaches ahead of the overtime 107-104 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard and Malik Monk entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols earlier this week after the 21-year-old guard tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). Soon after, the Lakers said assistant coach Phil Handy would also miss the clash due to the same COVID-19 restrictions.
Meanwhile, David Fizdale wasn’t with the team due to personal reasons.
The Lakers have preached the “next man up” mentality since the start of the current campaign having seen many of the team’s stars sidelined with injuries. Head coach Frank Vogel said his staff embraced the same mindset while dealing with the absence of the two assistants.
“Everybody is prepared to do the guy’s job in front of them and that will be the case tonight,” Vogel said. “Quinton Crawford will be on the bench handling defensive responsibilities and matchups like Phil Handy would, and John Lucas will be up there with Mike [Penberthy] sliding over handling some of Mike P’s roles and obviously Mike P. handling some of David Fizdale’s roles.
“So it’s really a next man up, it’s a fun opportunity for those guys and they’ll be great.”
Crawford and Lucas are likely to serve as Handy and Fizdale’s replacement for the foreseeable future — particularly with L.A. having two more road games left before they return to Staples Center for the Dec. 21 clash with the Phoenix Suns.
The Lakers will face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday before heading to Illinois to square off with Alex Caruso and his Chicago Bulls.
Vogel discusses ‘frustrating’ COVID-19 outbreaks; explains Lakers’ efforts to stop spread
More than 30 players have entered the health and safety protocols in the last couple of weeks as the coronavirus rapidly spread in the NBA — and other major leagues.
Vogel expressed frustration with the recent COVID-19 outbreaks, especially considering the Lakers have been affected even though the team cautiously followed the safety guidelines.
“It’s difficult. It’s frustrating,” the head coach said. “You want to be able to have everyone available, but that’s just not the nature of this virus,” Vogel said. “It’s affecting teams over multiple sports, really obviously even outside of sports, but multiple teams in our league, hockey is dealing with it, football is dealing with it.
“It’s just one of those things that we feel like as an organization, we’re doing everything the right way from a standpoint of we have a fully vaccinated team, we’re adhering to the protocols as best as we can and it’s still, we’re at the mercy of the virus. So you just have to have the mindset that this is the nature of this type of season and have a no-excuse mindset and go out and win games.”
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