The Los Angeles Lakers got a much-needed 93-89 victory over the Denver Nuggets, ending their three-game losing streak and providing a confidence boost to a team that seemed to have hit rock bottom.
Superstar Anthony Davis looked more like himself, but the Lakers also got major contributions from a pair of players who had been out of the rotation in Wesley Matthews and Marc Gasol.
Matthews hit all three of his shots including a pair of 3-pointers to finish with eight points in 17 minutes to go along with his trademark tough defense. The veteran wing hadn’t played in the last four games and five of the last six for the Lakers, but Matthews spoke on staying prepared regardless of his spot in the rotation.
“I mean, honestly, it wouldn’t have meant anything if we didn’t come out in the win column,” Matthews said. “That’s just how I feel, that’s not just PR talk, that’s genuinely how I feel. Everything is just like life, it’s unpredictable, you have to adjust, you have to adapt, you have to be prepared and personally, that’s what I’ve been doing. Staying in the gym, staying ready, working on the things I need to work on while trying to keep my mind clear, my mind focused on the task at hand.”
This has been an entirely new experience for Matthews, who has been primarily a starter and is averaging more than 31 minutes per game for his career. With the Lakers, he is below 20 minutes and has started just seven games on the season. But he doesn’t expect empathy from anyone. “Obviously a lot of this stuff is new for me, but it comes with the territory.
“I’m not pitying myself, no one is pitying me and I would never want that. To get back to what you asked, it wouldn’t have meant anything if we didn’t come out with a win so I’m happy that we were able to get a win, like Dudz said, a character win. We showed who we need to be, who we are and what we’re capable of.”
The fact that Matthews keeps returning to the point that the Lakers got the win shows where Matthews’ focus is. All the Lakers care about is the ultimate goal and on this night, Matthews and Gasol came through in a major way. Matthews gave credit to Gasol but his message continued to echo that of head coach Frank Vogel, staying ready.
“Marc was amazing, the whole team was,” Matthews added. “I can’t speak for Marc, but for myself, my friends, my family, God, trusting and believing in yourself, trusting the work that you put in and just staying ready. That was part of it. Like I said, basketball is just like life, it’s unpredictable, you don’t know what may or may not happen but you got to be prepared for it. It’s gonna continue to go on and you can either go on with it, or it goes on without you.”
Vogel praises Matthews, Gasol for staying ready
Vogel has stressed the importance of everyone on the team staying ready at all times. With the depth the Lakers have, some players who deserve minutes are going to find themselves on the bench depending on the opponent and what the game needs.
Matthews and Gasol were turned to against the Nuggets and both contributed to a victory the Lakers sorely needed and Vogel had nothing but praise for the veterans who embraced that mantra of staying ready.
“Marc and Wes are two of our better defenders and to have those guys back in there set a great tone for us,” Vogel said. “It’s just one of those things where we’re going to need everybody on this team. We have a deep team and certain nights your number is going to be called and certain nights it’s not, but a great testament to those guys staying ready.”
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