When Magic forward Jonathan Isaac fouled Dwight Howard, a crowd of Isaac’s teammates were around him. Some scuffling ensued and suddenly Howard was surrounded.
Enter Jared Dudley.
“Dwight gets fouled a lot but Dwight fouls a lot, so it goes both ways, sometimes it’s going to be chippy,” Dudley said. “Sometimes they jack him up but sometimes it’s actually the other way around. I don’t care if my teammate’s in the wrong or not. It’s like if you have a son, if you have kids at home and they’re in trouble, you’ll stand up for your son regardless of if it’s a teacher going at him — it’s my son. And if it’s my teammate, just, you know, gonna keep it like that.”
Dudley couldn’t quite reach the action, so he pushed the pile and was ejected for his efforts.
“That’s all it takes to get ejected?” LeBron James said. “A little shove?”
The Lakers appreciated Dudley’s willingness to get in the fray for his teammate. And that was only one part of his contribution to the Lakers in their 96-87 win over the Orlando Magic.
With Kyle Kuzma out because of a lingering ankle injury, Dudley’s role during the game increased. He played well during his 21 minutes on the court, making three of the four three-pointers he attempted. He scored nine points, grabbed two rebounds and had a plus-minus rating of plus-16 — the best on the team.
“Credit him for staying ready, and he doesn’t play a lot,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “He knows his role. Knows that he’s not going to play always on a night-to-night basis, but when he’s needed he’s going to come in and produce.”
Dudley is in his 13th NBA season and knew when he joined the Lakers that his usage would be limited. So far this season he’s played in 15 games and averaged 6.7 minutes per game.
At the same time, he understood that injuries would happen through the course of the season, prompting the team to rely on him at certain times.
“My number’s eventually going to get called, it’s one of the reasons I wanted to come here,” Dudley said.
From the start, he also knew that he’d have an opportunity to protect his teammates at times.
“He told you guys at media day his job is to come in here if somebody goes crazy, do something crazy to me or AD or whoever on the team, he’s going to be the muscle,” James said. “He’s not ready to go but when something happens he can get that switch.”