Lakers coach Frank Vogel explains Anthony Davis-Kyle Kuzma frontcourt, JaVale McGee benching vs. Rockets
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel went with a different look for Thursday night’s game against the Houston Rockets, playing Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma in the frontcourt. Meanwhile, Javale McGee made an appearance on the team’s inactive list due to what Vogel called a “coach’s decision.”
It’s worth noting that the Lakers, who have already clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, were without several players for Thursday night’s matchup due to injuries, including LeBron James (groin), Rajon Rondo (thumb) and Alex Caruso (neck). Houston, on the other hand, was without the services of Russell Westbrook due to a bruised right quadriceps.
With James out, Vogel went with Kuzma in his place. The Michigan native logged 30 minutes, notching a team-high 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field (1-of-4 from beyond the arc), five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals. Davis, who played the center position for much of the night and rested in the fourth quarter, finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes of action. Ultimately, though, the Rockets carried the day against the Lakers, 113-97.
The Lakers coach explained his strategy:
“I knew that I wanted to see what a small lineup looked like to start with, with Kuz in there,” Vogel said, via The Athetic. “And that means it’s sometimes going to be difficult to play both centers. It doesn’t mean we’re necessarily going to go with that if we played these guys in the playoffs, but just something I wanted to look at.”
Looking a bit deeper, the Rockets play a smaller lineup. This also likely played into Vogel’s decision.
Although they’ve already clinched the No. 1 seed in the West, the Lakers have now lost three of their last four bubble games, with three more to play before the playoffs start.