One of the biggest reasons the Los Angeles Lakers were able to defeat the Denver Nuggets on Monday night was the play of Marc Gasol.
The Lakers’ center has been out of the rotation in recent games, but every time Frank Vogel has turned to him lately, he has delivered.
This game was no different as Gasol gave the Lakers 10 points, seven rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes. Additionally, he did an excellent job in helping to force NBA MVP frontrunner Nikola Jokic to a 12-of-28 shooting night. The Lakers’ defensive performance as a whole was excellent as they held the Nuggets’ high-powered offense to below 90 points, nearly 30 below their season average.
It is the effort on that side of the floor that Gasol believes must continue for the Lakers to carry on this success.
“We have to enjoy the defensive effort from five guys at all times,” Gasol said. “The helping one another when somebody is on the ball, making sure that he understands that we all have his back behind him. That communication, that help, that rotation, that activity on the defensive end allows us to run. It creates trust. Good things happen when you talk when you have that communication and that willing helping one another.
“Denver [Nuggets] is a great team. One of the best offenses in the league and I think tonight we all move, we all were more physical than we’ve been in the past. We felt the urgency and now you have to carry it on to the next game and it’s what it’s going to take. You are going to have to be the most physical team in order to win.”
The Lakers, especially at full strength, can be the most physical team on most nights. With Gasol, Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Montrezl Harrell and, of course, LeBron James, the Lakers can simply overwhelm most teams. But that takes consistent effort and the team has to be willing to give that on every single night.
As for his effort on Jokic, Gasol spoke on what he tried to do to make things difficult. “I don’t know […] I think Drumm did a great job and Trezz did a great job, too. I don’t know what I can tell you. Try to be as physical as possible. Use my length defensively, use my strength.
“He’s going to make shots,” Gasol added. “They give him the ball at every spot possible on the floor with different angles, different screens. They look for him at all times. He has great talent and great vision, so it’s hard to help and on the other end you have to attack him a little bit. Make him think, make him work. Like I said before, he’s a great, great player. Even better person. I enjoy watching him. I know his family, so it’s a good matchup to have.”
A first-round matchup with the Nuggets is very possible so the Lakers could need to figure out a strategy on dealing with Jokic in a playoff series once again. Whatever the case may be, Gasol is sure to be part of that plan.
Vogel praises Gasol & Matthews for staying ready
Gasol and Wesley Matthews both played huge roles in the Lakers victory, bringing defensive physicality and floor spacing on offense. Neither has played in the last few games for the Lakers, but head coach Frank Vogel has always stressed the need for everyone on the roster to stay 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.”
Neither Gasol or Matthews is used to being in and out of the rotation, but have continually said that they will be ready for whenever they are needed. The victory over the Nuggets was proof of exactly that.
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