The reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers created a winning streak after playing three games in six days. Their rebounding, shooting accuracy, and ball movement are their most lucrative qualities.
With an average of 38.3 defensive rebounds per game, the Lakers are third in the NBA in that category. In their 109-103 win over the San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers squad accumulated 58 rebounds.
“We want to win games by defending,” Lakers forward, LeBron James said. “When we defend, we rebound, we’re able to get out and run and get in early transition and get fast break points, we’re able to get into our early actions.”
Several Lakers players have been committing highlight-worthy blocks, ranking them eighth in the NBA in blocking average with 5.7 blocks per game.
Depth is another quality the Lakers possess. When guards, Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope were sidelined with injuries, guards, Talen Horton-Tucker and Wesley Matthews stepped up.
In their first three away games, Matthews averaged 25 minutes and 10.7 points; Horton-Tucker has averaged 14.3 minutes and 6.8 points per game this season. These options can allow injured players more time to heal.
“Our bench is deep enough for me to take my time coming back,” Caldwell-Pope said. “We made this concept last year, the “next man up” mentality and we still have that mentality here.”
Caldwell-Pope has been working with Horton-Tucker on his defense. Caruso’s role is to be a back-up point guard; since he is injured, Horton-Tucker takes on that responsibility.
“We bring [Horton-Tucker] in for our PG, but [Horton-Tucker] is more of a two guard,” said Lakers forward, Anthony Davis. “We don’t really have that true PG that we used to have when Alex was around, but we adjust. But it’s tough not having those guys.”
The Lakers bench players also double as fans, giving the players on the hardwood energy through cheers. Vogel encouraged the bench to be vocal throughout games. Traveling allowed the Lakers to experience the luxury of seeing fans in person for the first time since March 2020.
“It’s a great feeling, to be honest, just to have anyone in the stands,” James said. “To be able to come into an arena and just see a sprinkle or a dab of fans … it’s a beautiful feeling.”
Accurate shooting and ball movement has helped the Lakers secure wins. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Lakers are seventh in the NBA in assists with 26.1 assists per game. Vogel wants the team to play “extra-pass basketball” while making shots that coincide with the rhythm of the offense.
Making the extra pass is an asset for Davis, who often gets double-teamed.
“I know a lot of teams try to double, just to make me get a different look,” Davis said. “The best way to beat a double team is just to find an open guy and our guys are making shots.”
He noted how making the right reads makes the team better. Prior to the Lakers final game of their first road trip of this season, Davis was averaging 3.5 assists per game.
The Lakers will return home to battle the San Antonio Spurs on January 7 and the Chicago Bulls on January 8, both games starting at 7:00 P.M.