The Los Angeles Lakers are improving their competitive edge in their 96-93 win against the Orlando Magic. The second consecutive victory comes the same day center Andre Drummond signed with the franchise.
Three Lakers secured double-doubles in the bout, including forward Markieff Morris who scored 12 points and 11 rebounds. Although he did not get his “Robert Horry” shot from the top of the key, he was a reliable source of physical gameplay and rebounding.
The reigning champions are becoming more knowledgeable of how to play together.
“All of us was really brought to this team to gel with [forward LeBron James] and [forward Anthony Davis],” Morris said. “Just figuring out how to win with those guys off the court, came closer.”
In the past two games, guard Dennis Schröder made a total of 13 turnovers. He wanted to keep his turnovers down and limited them to three against the Magic. Orlando loaded up in the paint whenever the Lakers tried to get close.
“We talked about it, make the right plays at the rim,” Schröder said. “Try to find somebody on the weakside or on top … I think we played the right way for 48 minutes.”
Certain issues, like the lack of practice, have become a mainstay and its impact diminishes with time. Forward Kyle Kuzma learned that having the right mentality is key.
“We were in the bubble and won a championship without no practices, barely practiced pre-COVID last year,” he said. “If your head’s in the right place, you have the right mindset, you understand, watch enough film, you kind of get the drift of what you got to do.”
The players and coach are excited for center Andre Drummond to compete in the purple and gold. Head coach Frank Vogel has had conversations with the center and believes that Drummond can dominate on both sides of the ball.
“He’s one of the best centers in the league,” Vogel said. “Someone that every defense coordinator is gonna have to account for and figure how to handle him while they’re trying to slow down [Davis] and [James] and our guards.”
Throughout his career, Drummond has made 13.5 rebounds per game. Forward Kyle Kuzma sees him as another player “to battle with on the boards.”
“It’s gonna be tough for other teams,” Kuzma said. “If we get him to buy in defensively, continue what he does on the boards, just keep it simple, I’m thinking it’ll go well for us.”
Drummond has not played in an NBA game since February 12. In a season where teams play three or four games a week, he could bring the Lakers a fresh energy.
“He’s a strong solid player on both ends of the floor,” said Lakers center Montrezl Harrell. “High caliber blocking shots … you can’t miss him, he’s a big dominant presence.”
There is no timetable as to when Drummond will be debuting as a Laker. Although the Lakers have strong centers in Harrell and Morris, their efforts combined with Drummond’s are a necessity.
“There’s no doubt in my mind, you need all three of them for this playoff push that we are about to endure,” Vogel said. “We have a really condensed second half of the season.”
The Lakers will host the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday at 7:00P.M.