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Anthony Davis Raves About Lakers’ Secret Weapon in Victory Over Pelicans, Making LA a Force to be Reckoned With

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Lakers star Anthony Davis had kind words for teammate Gabe Vincent following their 110-106 win over the Pelicans.

The Los Angeles Lakers scraped by the New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday night in the NBA Play-In Tournament, securing a 110-106 victory to book a first-round playoff date with the Denver Nuggets. All-Stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis led the team to victory as per usual, but there was a certain unsung hero who came off the bench for Los Angeles as well.

That hero goes by the name of Gabe Vincent, former Miami Heat point guard who missed the majority of the season due to injury. While he may not be the main headline-grabber, he’s at least admired by Davis, who seemed quite grateful to have him back in the rotation, via Khobi Price of the LA Daily News.

“He’s a ballhawk,” Anthony Davis said. “And he’s a very high-IQ player. Just a great overall talent. High-IQ player. When he’s like that on the defensive end, we’re just a tougher team to beat.”

Of course, Davis was referring to the myriad of solid moments that Vincent had on the defensive end. Less than one minute into the game, for example, the veteran grabbed a stylish steal. He dove for a bad pass from Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. and then kicked it out to Taurean Prince Jr. to start the fast break.

Was this just a one-off performance, or will Vincent’s presence actually help the Lakers’ chances against the defending champion Nuggets?

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Gabe Vincent improves the Lakers, but beating Nuggets will still be a tall order

Los Angeles Lakers guard Gabe Vincent (7) reacts in the second half against the New Orleans Pelicans in a play-in game of the 2024 NBA playoffs at Smoothie King Center.
© Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Vincent’s game was a microcosm of what he’s capable of when fully healthy. The 27-year-old primarily guarded CJ McCollum, who finished with just nine points on 4-of-15 shooting, via ESPN. He also switched onto Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram for long stretches, showing his ability to take on larger opponents despite being just 6-foot-2.

Vincent also did well offensively, scoring nine points on 3-of-6 shooting with one assist across 18 minutes. He canned two of his four shots from downtown, tying for the second-most three-pointers made on the squad.

The 27-year-old is getting into shape at the right time, as Los Angeles will need all the help it can get against second-seeded Denver. This was only Vincent’s eighth game of the season after returning on March 31st from left knee surgery.

“Each game I feel better, naturally,” Vincent said, via the Daily News. “There’s no replacing reps. And I think that’s something I miss most of this year, whether it’s reps in practice or just getting shots up or a rhythm-type thing. But each game I feel better naturally and always better when you get a win.”

Vincent’s presence as a shooting threat will be especially paramount against the Nuggets, as that will help space the floor for James and Davis to work inside. If one of them gets double-teamed in the paint, that could open up good looks for Vincent on the perimeter.

The Modesto, California native may not be able to shut down Jamal Murray or Michael Porter Jr. like he did McCollum, but even slightly slowing them down would go a long way for the Lakers. Both players caused major headaches for them when Nikola Jokic wasn’t terrorizing them with his own scoring prowess.

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While it’ll be a tough mission for Los Angeles to beat Denver in a seven-game series, stranger things have happened. Vincent’s presence makes the Lakers slightly better than they were a few weeks ago, and that’s all they can ask for at this point.

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