The Los Angeles Lakers picked up their first win of the 2019-2020 NBA season when they defeated the Utah Jazz 95-86 on Friday night. The offense on both sides sputtered for much of the game, but an adjustment from Lakers head coach Frank Vogel at halftime helped push the Lakers ahead and secure the victory.
On this episode of the LN Podcast, host Trevor Lane breaks down three things that we learned from the game moving forward.
First up, we saw just how deadly Anthony Davis can be when he slides down to the center position and the positive domino effect that it can have on the rest of the roster. At halftime, Davis stepped into the center position in place of JaVale McGee, who had been ineffective during the first half. This opened up a spot for guard Alex Caruso, who hadn’t played in the first game and a half of the season.
The result was increased mobility on the defensive end and, perhaps more importantly, more room to operate in the paint on offense as Davis dragged Jazz center Rudy Gobert away from the basket. This allowed the Lakers offense to finally get going and pull away for the rest of the game as LeBron James got to the basket time and again.
Additionally, credit should be given to head coach Frank Vogel, who talked to Davis about playing center at halftime. Davis has made it clear that he prefers to not play center, believing that getting his minutes at power forward instead will help him avoid wear and tear on his body. However, Vogel recognized a clear path to a victory by sliding Davis down and he had to have won some credibility with the team as his scheme worked to near perfection.
McGee didn’t appear in the second half, but reserve big man Dwight Howard had a solid game. It will be interesting to see if Vogel’s starting lineup changes now against the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday evening.
Finally, Troy Daniels had an excellent night for the Lakers, scoring 15 timely points while shooting 4-8 from behind the arc. With Kyle Kuzma still sidelined due to injury, the Lakers need at least one role player to step up each night and provide a scoring boost. Against the Jazz, that player was Daniels, and he has earned himself a longer look moving forward.
While the game wasn’t perfect by any means, the Lakers picked up a needed win and now head into what should be a lighter part of their schedule.