Lakers News: Wesley Matthews Made Sure To Stay Ready After Sitting First Half Against Warriors
(Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel showed in last year’s championship run that he would make the necessary adjustments to give the Lakers the best chance to win. That was undoubtedly the case for the Play-In Tournament game against the Golden State Warriors and veteran wing Wesley Matthews.

Talen Horton-Tucker got minutes in the first half, but with the team badly needing an injection of defensive intensity and physicality, Vogel turned to Matthews in the second half and he came through in a big way. His stat line won’t jump off the page, but in 14 minutes, Matthews was a team-high +17 in the Lakers’ 103-100 victory.

Many players may struggle to make an impact after sitting for the entire first half, but Matthews was ready to go after getting word from Vogel.

“Coach came up to me right before halftime and told me to be ready to go in around like the 6-minute mark in the third,” Matthews said after the game. “So it’s our jobs to be professional, be ready for whenever our name is called and show up and do everything we can to help the team win.”

Matthews immediately hit a 3-pointer upon checking in, which wound up being his only made basket. But Vogel clearly trusted him down the stretch as his style of play completely fits what the Lakers want to do. And for Matthews, all that matters to him was the end result.

“Well I mean the only individual satisfaction I get is the fact that my performance helped the team win,” Matthews added. “If I did all that and we didn’t win then it’s all for nothing.

“That’s kind of the way I’ve always approached things so yeah, obviously you’re always excited when you individually have a good game but you know me, I’m still kicking myself from the three threes that I missed. So that’s just kind of my mentality but I’m proud that I was able to come in and help this team and come out with a big win.”

Matthews did miss a chance to ice the game with a late 3-pointer so that is surely on his mind as he said, but his impact was felt and the Lakers don’t win without his play in the second half. One of the benefits of having a deep team like this is that Vogel can employ different players in different situations. On this night, he made the right call going with Matthews in the second half and the Lakers came out with a win because of it.

Matthews not worried about seventh seed never winning NBA Championship

The Lakers’ victory over the Warriors locked them into the seventh seed, and if history is any indication, the odds of them defending their championship is slim to none. No seventh-seeded team has ever won the NBA Championship with the 1996 Houston Rockets being the lowest seed to ever win at a sixth-seed.

But Matthews isn’t concerned about any statistics or history like that. “I didn’t know about that stat but there’s also never been an NBA Play-In Tournament like this and you know last year, there’s never been a bubble,” Matthews noted. “So this whole last two years, last two seasons has been just learning and just adjusting and adapting.

“We got hit with the injury bug early and often it felt like this whole season so it’s always been in flux and everybody’s had to pull their weight and step up and adjust and all that kind of stuff. So at the end of the day, we just need to be playing our best basketball and wherever we fell is where we fell in the standings but we got a job to do every single night. We don’t view ourselves and the 7-seed so that’s that, I guess.”

Since the NBA switched to the seven-game series in the first round, the San Antonio Spurs in 2010 were the only seventh seed to defeat a two-seed in the first round. The Lakers are looking to be the second.

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