Despite being shorthanded, the Los Angeles Lakers pulled out a narrow 117-115 victory over the Chicago Bulls to avoid losing a second consecutive game.
The Lakers were without Anthony Davis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as they nursed nagging injuries, forcing head coach Frank Vogel to turn to his bench. Vogel decided to start Wesley Matthews and Markieff Morris, and they performed admirably as they combined for 25 points.
After the game, Vogel said that Matthews’ experience against the Bulls and his desire to get Morris more minutes factored into his decision to start the two. “Just managing the roster,” Vogel began.
“The Wes Matthews matchup was about him being in the Bull’s division the last two years and getting a lot of reps guarding Zach. There’s some analytics based on him doing a good job on Zach.
“With ‘Kieff, it was called managing the roster. He’s been a little bit shortchanged with minutes and hasn’t really had a chance to blow it out and get some big run. Obviously he was a huge contributor for us last year in a championship run.
“With A.D. out, it was an opportunity to get him some extended minutes. He’s someone we believe in and he had a great performance.”
Friday’s game was a perfect example of Vogel leveraging the depth and talent on the roster as he was able to get starter-level production from Matthews and Morris, both of whom have primarily come off the bench.
Matthews caught fire in the third quarter where he drained all four of his 3s, while Morris was a steady presence on both ends of the floor.
Vogel and his staff have erred on the side of caution whenever it comes to injuries, so there will likely be more nights where he will have to extend minutes to the end of his bench. However, they have proven that they can still win games even when everyone does not suit up.
Vogel explains decision to sit Anthony Davis
Davis was a surprise scratch against Chicago, and Vogel explained that he was a true game-time decision. “He was about 50-50,” Vogel said. “He wanted to see how it felt, and it was sore today and tight.
“He wanted to see how it felt when he started moving around on the court, and it didn’t really loosen up. It’s a cause for concern and we wanted to make sure we play it safe, so he’s not going to be in tonight.”
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