‘A spark plug’: Why Wenyen Gabriel had big impact for Lakers

Within the Lakers’ seek for somebody to supply power in opposition to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, they discovered it with Wenyen Gabriel.

And the Lakers rode with Gabriel within the all-important fourth quarter, taking part in him alongside Anthony Davis, counting on the backup middle as a defender and rebounder.

Gabriel did the job, taking part in all however one second within the fourth quarter, 23:16 total, whereas amassing 11 rebounds to go along with 9 factors.

It was “simply his power” that allowed Lakers coach Darvin Ham to belief Gabriel.

“He has an amazing, nice nostril for the ball,” Ham mentioned. “[He had] 11 rebounds. He tries to defend, tries to guard the rim. … He’s only a spark plug, one other one among our spark plugs. His measurement, his capability to run up and down the ground, clear up free balls, and get offensive rebounds and putbacks. Actually defends effectively. And he confirmed all of that tonight. That’s why we stayed with him.”

For all that he did effectively, serving to to double workforce harmful Dallas guard Kyrie Irving, it was a painful night time for Gabriel and the Lakers, who misplaced the sport on a last-second three-pointer by Maxi Kleber.

“This one hurts, bro, for actual,” Gabriel mentioned. “Bored with shedding these shut video games.”

Gabriel entered with 4:16 to play within the third quarter and performed till the ultimate buzzer, except one momentary substitution and fast reentry, his play infectious and galvanizing.

Gabriel had 4 rebounds within the fourth quarter, all offensive.

When Irving received the ball late within the sport, Gabriel was serving to Dennis Schroder on protection, utilizing his lengthy arms and sliding his 6-9 physique to maintain the Dallas star from getting off extra photographs.

“That’s a part of one of many issues with my talent set, is that mobility to try this with a participant like Kyrie or I’m guarding a giant, to have the ability to double, type of slide and attempt to get the ball out of his fingers and that was one thing that was my job,” Gabriel mentioned. “After which when my man goes assist, go get offensive rebounds and that’s one other factor that I’ve been capable of deliver worth to the workforce.

“And simply taking part in with quite a lot of power and taking part in with the next IQ and understanding methods to play with totally different gamers. Like at the moment, at the moment was my first time taking part in with AD shortly and I believe these minutes appeared good and hopefully later down the road we get extra alternatives for that as effectively.”

Free-throw woes

The Lakers’ poor free-throw capturing harm them in a nasty means. They received to the road greater than sufficient, capturing 31 free throws.

However they made simply 19, or 61.3%.

That received’t get it achieved. It didn’t get it achieved.

The Lakers shot 64.3% from the free-throw line within the fourth quarter, when the sport was there for them to shut out.

“And we did the job we needed,” Ham mentioned. “We hunt down to do each sport, and that’s to win the free-throw line. We received 31 makes an attempt however you bought to make greater than 19. We make our free throws, we’re most likely not having this dialog.”

Davis made one among two free throws with 6.7 seconds left, giving the Lakers a two-point lead however leaving the door open for Kleber to make a buzzer-beating three-pointer for the Dallas win over a surprised Lakers workforce.

“I shot slightly proper. We might have been up three after that time,” Davis mentioned. “Nonetheless type of processing it. I imply, you consider it, up three, even when he makes a 3, extra time. … I imply, a troublesome loss.”