The Los Angeles Lakers need to be at the top of their game as they enter the final stretch of the regular season. With how tightly-contested the Western Conference playoff race is right now, they can’t afford to lose focus or slow down for any period of time.
On Friday night, they beat the Minnesota Timberwolves in a game that was crucial to the West standings, as Minnesota is neck-and-neck with LA. While he didn’t get a ton of minutes, Wenyen Gabriel still provided a solid spark off the bench. After the game, Anthony Davis praised him, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Rui Hachimura for doing their jobs well and playing their roles.
“Vando [Vanderbilt] played extremely well on Anthony Edwards. Made shots. Rebounding. Do what he do. Wenyen, same thing. Rebounding. Finishing around the rim,” Davis said via the NBA Interviews YouTube channel. “Rui comes in and do what he do. All these guys did exactly what we want them to do, which contributed to the win. And we’re going to need them to continue to do that as we move forward.”
Gabriel didn’t get a ton of playing time, but he was effective when he was on the floor. He finished the game with four points, two rebounds, one assist, and one steal on 2-of-2 shooting from the floor.
As for Davis, he was an absolute monster in the Lakers’ win over the Timberwolves. The big man ended the night with 38 points, 17 rebounds, one steal, and two blocks on 15-of-26 shooting from the field.
Darvin Ham Shows Love to Jarred Vanderbilt
In addition, head coach Darvin Ham had some nice things to say about Vanderbilt after the game. He sent a similar message to the one Davis mentioned, giving Vanderbilt credit for his defensive presence.
“I thought we were a little loose in the first half with some of our closeouts. And we did a much, much better job in that department in the second half. Hats off to Vando [Vanderbilt],” Ham said via the NBA Interviews YouTube channel. “[He] did a great job. We were blitzing them [and] double-teaming Anthony Edwards, but that’s not easy cover by any stretch of the imagination. So, Vando, him just being locked in and understanding. Forcing them to the screen, forcing them to double-team, and the pick and roll was huge.”
LeBron James Praises Rui Hachimura
Meanwhile, LeBron James had some kind words for Dennis Schroder and Hachimura. Everyone on the Lakers was showing love to the role players after their win over Minnesota.
“It changed the game. That third quarter changed the game,” James said via the NBA Interviews YouTube channel. “D [Schroder] is picking up full court and creating a steal. Got a steal, got an and-one on the other end, and then was able to get another deflection and create an over-and-back on [Karl-Anthony] Towns. So, it was big-time for us. And D has been doing that all year. And Rui’s been great for us when his moment has been called, and he was huge for us tonight.”