In the Lakers’ search for something to provide energy against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, they found it with Waynee Gabriel.
And the Lakers rode with Gabriel in the all-important fourth quarter, playing him alongside Anthony Davis, relying on the backup center as a defender and rebounder.
Gabriel did the job, playing all but one second in the fourth quarter, playing 23:16 overall, while collecting 11 rebounds to go along with the nine points.
It was “just his energy” that allowed Lakers coach Darwin Hamm to trust Gabriel.
Ham said, “He has a great nose for the ball.” ,[He had] 11 rebounds. He tries to defend, tries to protect the rim. … That’s just a spark plug, another one of our spark plugs. His size, his ability to run up and down the floor, clean up loose balls and get offensive rebounds and putbacks. Really good defense. And he showed it all tonight. So we stayed with them.”
While he helped the team’s dangerous Dallas guard Kyrie Irving double, it was a painful night for Gabriel and the Lakers, who lost the game on a last-second three-pointer by Maxi Kleber.
Gabriel said, “It gives a pain, brother, for real.” “Tired of losing these close games.”
Gabriel entered with 4:16 to play in the third quarter and played until the final buzzer, with the exception of a momentary substitution and quick reentry, his play was infectious and inspiring.
Gabriel had four rebounds in the fourth quarter, all offensive.
When Irving got the ball late in the game, Gabriel was helping Dennis Schroder’s defense, using his long arms and sliding his 6-9 body to prevent the Dallas star from taking more shots.
“It’s part of one of the things with my skill set, is having the mobility to do that like a player like Kiri or I’m a big guard, to be able to double, slide and hit the ball like that.” Try to get out of yours.” hands and that was something that was my job,” Gabriel said. “And then when my man goes in for assists, rebounds offensively and that is another thing that I am able to bring value to the team.
“And just playing with a lot of energy and playing with a high intelligence and understanding how to play with different players. Like today, today was my first time playing with AD and I think those minutes are looking good.” We have been and hope that we will get more opportunities for this later.
The Lakers’ poor free-throw shooting hurt them badly. He got to the line more than necessary, shooting 31 free throws.
But they made just 19, or 61.3%.
He will not complete it. It didn’t.
The Lakers shot 64.3% from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter when the game was about to end for them.
“And we did the work we wanted,” Ham said. “We want to make every game, and that’s to win the free-throw line. We got 31 attempts but you get more than 19. We make our free throws, we’re probably not having that conversation.
Davis made one of two free throws with 6.7 seconds left, giving the Lakers a two-point lead, but leaving the door open for Kleber to make a buzzer-beating three-pointer for the Dallas win, shocking the Lakers .
“I shot a little too right. We would have been up three after that point,” Davis said. “Still processing it. I mean, you think about it, three up, even if he makes three in overtime. … I mean, a tough defeat.”