Despite back-to-back losses to the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers could leave Texas feeling cautiously reassured.
The main reason for optimism came with Anthony Davis’ return from his Achilles injury. The 28-year-old All-Star said he felt good on the floor despite seemingly dealing with some rust caused by his two-month absence.
But also, L.A. showed off its roster depth again. In the first loss to Dallas, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Dennis Schroder went off for 29 and 25 points, respectively, proving they could serve as a serious scoring option if necessary.
And when the former had to sit out the Saturday clash, the Lakers’ latest acquisition Ben McLemore did more than just fill the void in the rotation left by the Georgia product’s unavailability. McLemore came out red hot sinking four 3-pointers in the first quarter on Saturday, adding substance to the recent self-assessment of his shooting prowess.
The guard ended the game with team-high 20 points shooting 6-for-10 from deep. The performance earned him praise from head coach Frank Vogel. “Filled in for KCP admirably,” he said. “Competed on both sides of the ball.
“When a guy is shooting the ball that well from the perimeter, it should open things up. It didn’t enough for us obviously we didn’t get to the basket enough in the second half, but definitely Ben gave us a good lift, especially at the start of the game.”
McLemore was brought in for the specific purpose of filling it up from deep, and if he is able to produce the way he did on Saturday moving forward then he definitely will get more looks.
Caldwell-Pope was a late scratch due to a right ankle sprain, although it’s not believed to be anything serious.
Gasol: Lakers’ center situation ‘not ideal for everybody’
In further tweaks to Vogel’s game plan, Marc Gasol received some early rotation minutes on Saturday while Montrezl Harrell had a night off. The 36-year-old center got up from the bench for the first time in three games.
And although Gasol reiterated that he remained committed to any role Vogel envisions for him, the center also pointed out the downside of his irregular role. “It’s not an ideal situation for anybody,” Gasol said. “I’m sure that just being in that situation and not playing for a few games, nobody likes that.”
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