Surprise at the start of the Rockets – Lakers. In the interval, Christian Wood had to face… LeBron James, who was also able to recover the first possession of the match. For the first time in his career, the training winger has been established as a pivot. A position on which he has already been mobilized in sequence in recent weeks.
A choice assumed by David Fizdale who could have relied on DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard (who has certainly returned from quarantine), the usual holders, yet available and present on the Lakers bench.
« I had never played pivot before », recalls the player of the Lakers, after the meeting. “I was skinny and lanky younger, I have never been among the greatest of my teams. I have always played on the wing or managed the ball in a way. »
No more harm in defense
The conclusions to be drawn from this experience are nuanced. In attack, the MVP of the evening, defended most of the time by the smaller and less powerful David Nwaba, was delighted by signing a new triple-double (32 points to 11/19 on shots, 11 rebounds and 11 assists ), allowing him to pass the 36,000 career point mark.
He was logically a little more sore in defense, in assists or to contain Christian Wood (22 points at 8/12), who had started his evening by planting two award-winning shots from the first minutes. Carmelo Anthony and Stanley Johnson also had the opportunity to defend on the Rockets’ inside 2.08-yard.
The Texans’ mistake was probably not to insist with him and Alperen Sengun. The local commentator regretted, for example, that the Turk had not “rolled” in the circle after his screens. Christian Wood, despite his efficiency, was hardly mobilized in the final quarter, during which he did not take the slightest shot.
Not sure that this choice therefore works in the face of heavier pivots like Jonas Valanciunas, during the next night’s trip to Memphis.
An evolution of the game
« LeBron’s +/- (editor’s note: +6 for the whole match) on post five is really ridiculous at the moment ”, assures David Fizdale, to whom Frank Vogel had given his approval to test this formula. “With the players coming out of the Covid and the like, I just took a bet and I was like, ‘I think it’s the right night to get him started at station 5’. »
« I have had this pride during my career to be able to play on the five positions. Or at least to know them well. I know the rules. So tonight I was asked to start in five, I just tried to get involved in a lot of actions “, Notes the former player of the Cavs and the Heat.
Also mobilized in this position, while he is also a natural winger, Carmelo Anthony (24 points and 9 rebounds) sees it ” an evolution of the game. Pivots are playing on the outside now. You have to adapt, adjust. You have to stay sharp because without it you will be left out. »
David Fizdale does not yet know if this strategy will be repeated on a recurring basis. Not certain that LeBron James, who laughed about it when the subject was raised, therefore join the lineage of the great pivotal points of the Lakers (Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Shaquille O’Neal) …