The Los Angeles Lakers needed a spark against the Denver Nuggets, which veteran big man Marc Gasol was happy to provide.
Gasol played 17 minutes off the bench in the 93-89 victory, providing 10 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block. He also shot 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, helping lead the way to victory along with Anthony Davis (25 points, 7 rebounds).
While some might have written off the 36-year-old Gasol after his slow start to the season, he’s still a highly-regarded player around the league, which Nuggets MVP candidate Nikola Jokic noted after the game.
“I think we all forget who Marc Gasol is,” said Jokic, who had 32 points in the loss. “The guy who won two defensive players of the year.”
Frank Vogel: Marc Gasol Is a Hell of a Weapon
Gasol has only won one DPOY honor, but the point Jokic is making is obvious. Gasol can still be a major presence on both ends of the court for a championship-caliber team, which he proved against Denver — a squad that is currently No. 3 in the Western Conference.
Gasol finished a team-best plus-17 against the Nuggets and was instrumental down the stretch to seal the victory.
“Marc Gasol is a winner,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said. “That type of commitment, sacrifice and whatever the team needs attitude is what is necessary to win a championship.”
Andre Drummond has seen the bulk of the minutes at center since signing with the Lakers in March, with Montrezl Harrell serving as his primary backup. While Gasol has fallen out of the regular rotation of late, Vogel has preached that all three of his big men need to stay ready.
“He’s a hell of a weapon,” Vogel said of Gasol. “So is Drummond, so is Trezz. These are what they call ‘good problems’ for a coach.”
Marc Gasol Embracing ‘Mr. Wolf’ Role
The Lakers had lost six of seven before turning it around against the Nuggets and there was quite a bit of uncertainty in the locker room following a loss to the Raptors on Sunday.
Kyle Kuzma expressed some frustration in his postgame comments and petitioned for Gasol to have a larger role.
“I don’t know, man. It’s just very tough. It’s an unfortunate situation. Obvious we’ve got guys that are unhealthy. It’s tough, man; it’s just tough. I’m not sure what to do,” Kuzma said. “I wish we could get a little more time out there with Marc. That would be something that would be good for us, for sure, but it’s tough because we’ve got a lot of different situations and a lot of things going on around us.”
Gasol said he didn’t know Kuzma had campaigned for him publicly but is fine with the role he is currently playing.
“He mentioned something after the game, but I was not aware. And I told him, ‘I’m fine on that Mr. Wolf role,'” Gasol said, referencing the character from the movie Pulp Fiction. “You just come in whenever things aren’t going great and kind of help everyone. So, I accepted it. I’ll try to do as best as possible at that role.”
The Lakers have a few days off before gearing up for another crucial back-to-back stint against the Clippers on Thursday followed by the Trail Blazers on Friday.