Montrezl Harrell gave the Los Angeles Lakers exactly what they needed on Sunday. On a night where the Lakers were struggling to match the Memphis Grizzlies’ energy, Harrell came in and set the tone for his team by fighting for second-chance points on offense and staying active on defense. He ended the game with 16 points, 9 rebounds and 2 steals.
After the game, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel praised Harrell for the way he competed on both ends of the floor, but he made a point to highlight how hard Harrell has worked on the defensive end.
“You have to honor everything he does on the offensive end, whether he’s ducking in or rolling to the basket,” Vogel said. “He’s really picked up his offensive rebounding from early in the season and obviously gives us great defensive determination and fight as well with his communication. I thought he did a great job, not only rebounding the ball defensively but boxing out.
“It’s a selfless thing, to give yourself up, to get your body into a bigger guy like Valancunias and let some of the guards, or you saw Bron with 13 defensive rebounds. It lets some of the guards come back and rebound while he’s doing the dirty work underneath and wiping the crashes off of the glass. It doesn’t show up in the box score, but he really did a great job of that.”
Anthony Davis also sang Harrell’s praises, adding that Harrell has been quick to learn how the Lakers do things on offense and defense.
“He’s a hell of a player,” Davis said. “He brings that spark, that energy, off the bench. He’s able to get to his floaters, he stays on the glass offensively and gets us extra possessions, he’s great at defense and is continuously learning to adapt to our system — on both sides of the ball — but when you’re a special talent like he is, he’s able to adapt quickly.
“When he comes in, we know who’s going to bring that energy. Whether we’re down or up, he’s going to bring that spark for us, either to get us back into games or increase leads.”
Harrell definitely has his faults as a player — particularly on the defensive end, where teams have picked him out in the past — but his shortcomings aren’t due to a lack of effort. For Harrell, effort and energy is the one thing he knows he can bring on a nightly basis, and he’s hoping he can continue to do that for the Lakers.
“It was really just coming out and playing the right way, man,” Harrell told Mike Trudell in his walk-off interview with Spectrum SportsNet. “My team looks to me for energy to pick things up when guys are kind of not in the right flow or groove of offense or defense, so I just come in and try to do anything I can, and basically everything I can, to keep the ball alive on the offensive end and limit everyone’s shots on the defensive end. My teammates do a great job of feeding off of me.”