The Los Angeles Lakers suffered their third consecutive loss, this time at the hands of the Washington Wizards who fought back from a 17-point deficit in the overtime contest. Though the loss was undoubtedly a disappointing one, Montrezl Harrell was a bright spot.
Harrell was outstanding for much of the night, hitting 10-of-17 shots for 26 points to go along with nine rebounds and two blocks. But with 6:46 left in the fourth quarter, Harrell committed a foul on the Wizards’ Rui Hachimura, his fifth of the contest.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel chose to take Harrell out. To the surprise of many, he never returned even with the game going to overtime. Following the loss, Vogel admitted that he thought about going back to Harrell, but ultimately decided not to do so in effort to best ensure the Lakers had a quality defense to go against Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook.
“Robin Lopez is huge, and like I said, they have two dominant offensive players having huge nights. We wanted as much size as we could get at the rim for defensive purposes.”
To Vogel’s point, Lopez finished with 13 points and was a game-high +16 on the night. The Lakers did have issues containing Lopez on rolls, and with both Beal and Westbrook attacking the rim relentlessly, Vogel wanted Marc Gasol in the game, and he did have three blocks and two steals.
That being said, Harrell had been the Lakers’ best offensive option for much of the night and with the team struggling to get points down the stretch, he could have been a help. Not to mention Harrell’s energy had been a boost to the team as a whole.
Without both Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder, the Lakers have been in need of anyone to step up for the team to help pick up the scoring punch lost. Figuring out the right players and lineups to go with is difficult and Vogel has done his best to make the right calls for the Lakers.
With the losses piling up for the time being, however, every decision Vogel makes will be second-guessed.
Harrell won’t “back down” from bigger players
Harrell’s struggles against larger players have been well noted as he is basically an undersized center and just isn’t quite big enough to bang with the league’s premier big men. But don’t expect Harrell to back down from down from anybody, regardless of size.
“I don’t really believe in that ‘smaller’ stuff, man,” Harrell recently said. “At the end of the day, if you believed in that, the elephant would be the king of the jungle, and that ain’t happening. I come out here and put my hard hat on like everybody else on this team.
“Everybody in this league knows I don’t back down from anybody. I don’t care what your size is and I don’t care what you do.”
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