The Los Angeles Lakers won last night, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves to the tune of a 108-103 final score. LeBron James led the way with 26 points while Malik Monk contributed 22 points of his own to help the team overcome nine turnovers from Russell Westbrook (who, to be fair, also had 20 points).
Other than Westbrook’s turnovers, the team had to overcome the Timberwolves’ frisky rebounders who were able to corral a whopping 20 offensive rebounds to the Lakers’ four. The Timberwolves were able to score 20 second-change points off of these offensive rebounds.
After the game, head coach Frank Vogel admitted that he didn’t think the Lakers did a good enough job on cleaning up the glass while on defense. He also admitted that he had to resist the urge to go big with Dwight Howard or DeAndre Jordan entering the game (both players did not play due to Vogel’s decision), saying he ultimately didn’t go to bigger lineups down the stretch in an effort to challenge the team to be able to rebound while going small (h/t Kyle Goon of the OC Register).
Frank Vogel said one big reason he stuck with the small lineup through halftime was because he wants the Lakers to adapt to competing on the boards in their small units: "If we're gonna explore this style of play, we're gonna have to learn how to deal with this."
— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) January 3, 2022
This further strengthens the idea that the staff will almost exclusively continue to stay with lineups that feature LeBron James at the center while Anthony Davis remains out. David Fizdale was practicing this while Vogel was out due to health and safety protocols, and it appears this will continue with Vogel back.
LeBron exhibited a “glass half full” type of optimism when presented with the Timberwolves’ offensive rebounding statistics, pointing out that the T’Wolves only had “1 point per offensive rebound”. That’s nice and all, but a team that has all of its players (Karl Anthony-Towns and D’Angelo Russell did not play due to H&S protocols), or at least has better players than Minnesota, will most likely take better advantage of so many second-change opportunities. The Lakers will play much bigger teams than the Timberwolves in coming weeks without Anthony Davis, with much worse situations in terms of offensive rebounds given up coming for the purple-and-gold.
Vogel said that the way the Timberwolves crash the glass from the perimeter, rebounding was going to be an issue regardless if they were big tonight or not https://t.co/WXRsamknS2
— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) January 3, 2022
Still, it’s refreshing to hear that Vogel will not deviate from their plan to play LeBron (almost) exclusively at the five even with the rebounding issues. It’s given the Lakers a 111.2 offensive rating since AD went down, compared to 106.3 prior to his injury.
Hopefully they’ll just be able to survive on the glass until AD returns to give them a much better chance at cleaning up things without severely hurting the offense via playing DAJ or Dwight.