When Anthony Davis was diagnosed with a calf strain that would sideline him for at least four weeks, the Los Angeles Lakers and head coach Frank Vogel knew there would be adjustments to be made.
Davis often serves as the hub of the offense whenever LeBron James sits, but more important he is the anchor of their elite defense. Without Davis, it pushed players like Marc Gasol, Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell to assume more responsibility on both ends of the floor.
Although the Lakers suffered a four-game losing streak without Davis, the team has started to look more like themselves the past couple of nights. Los Angeles picked up a solid win against the Portland Trail Blazers and followed that with a blowout of the Golden State Warriors.
“Listen, when you lose a mega piece like A.D., it’s going to take some time, both offensively and defensively of how we want to play. And what’s going to be our rhythm and how we get into our rhythm,” James noted.
“I think over the last few games we’ve done a good job of, this is where we’re going to have the ball, this is how we’re going to be effective, this is where we need to run and how we’re going to benefit from one another. I also think guys know when they’re going to play and the rotations, so guys are just staying ready.
“Obviously you’ve always got to stay ready, but guys know their rotations, and it’s worked out well for us.”
The 36-year-old led the Lakers in scoring with 19 points in only 24 minutes of action against the Warriors, but it was his defensive activity that really jumpstarted the team. James registered two steals and two blocks as he resembled a free safety roaming the court.
Davis is normally the one quarterbacking the defense, but James has assumed that role and has filled in admirably these past few games. Their recent skid notwithstanding, it appears as though L.A. has begun to resemble themselves as the All-Star break draws nearer.
Vogel explains starting Morris over Kuzma
Kuzma got the first opportunity to start in place of Davis, but Vogel has since pivoted and opted to start Markieff Morris. “I like what ‘Kieff brings to the table,” Vogel explained.
“When Anthony went down, our first look was to play with Kuz in there and ‘Bron sort of defending the 4-man. We didn’t get off to a good start, we lost three in a row, and four out of five, so wanted to look at this stretch of games to see ‘Kieff in the starting lineup.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!