So far this season, a lot of center Timofey Mozgov’s impact has come in intangible, off-the-court ways.
On Tuesday against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Lakers used Mozgov for a season-high 37 minutes and 31 seconds.
“The more you play, the more you feel the game,” said Mozgov, in his seventh year in the league. “They got a few big guys. I’m ready to play. Just tell me. I can play 48 minutes. Basketball players want to play basketball.”
The Lakers signed Mozgov to a four-year deal worth $64 million this past summer after he averaged 6.3 points and 4.4 rebounds with Cleveland. He averaged eight points and 4.9 rebounds entering Tuesday’s game, when he had 14 points and five rebounds, before fouling out late in the game.
He also had a plus/minus of 18 in the Lakers’ 116-102 victory.
The Lakers expect much of Mozgov’s impact to be on defense, but that can sometimes be deceptive on the court.
“He’s been pretty consistent,” Coach Luke Walton said before the game. “He’s been around the league and understands the schemes better than some of the guys.
“A lot of times it looks like the center is the guy that’s not protecting the rim because that’s his job. But a lot of times it’s guards that are getting broken down and he has to come back over and now we’re not getting back to his guy and he’s getting the tip-in or whatnot. We’re fine with the way he’s playing.”
Mozgov was a little bit more critical about his play.
“I can’t say it’s a bad performance, but I can’t tell it’s good,” Mozgov said.
“I know I can do better. I know the things I can do better.”
He said he wants to do “little things” and help his teammates get better. He also wants to add some physicality to his game.
“It’s not like I gotta run and hit people,” Mozgov said. “Just have to be strong with them.”
For the second time this season, the Lakers had a fan win a big prize from a halfcourt shot.
Jerald Acoba of Tulare won $95,000 as he made a halfcourt shot between the third and fourth quarters. The first winner was Travis Milne of Santa Maria, who won $35,000 on Nov. 6.
Acoba mimicked D’Angelo Russell’s “ice in my veins” celebration after making the shot. Several Lakers, including Russell, celebrated from their bench.