Jared Dudley provides Lakers with quality play and toughness in absence of Kyle Kuzma
When the Los Angeles Lakers signed 14-year veteran forward Jared Dudley to a one-year deal during the summer, it was evident that Dudley would not be in the regular rotation, but be there to provide bench depth and a solid locker room presence. He has established a reputation for being a good defender and passer, as well as doing the little things beyond the box score. He uses his stout 6’6”, 237-pound frame to box out, set screens, and take charges. He also is known for his feistiness and for being an irritant at times for opponents.
Coming into the game in Orlando, the 34-year-old Dudley had played sparingly during the season, averaging 1.1 points in 6.7 minutes, in 15 of the 24 games. Much of his appearances were in garbage time. However, with forward Kyle Kuzma out with a sprained ankle, the San Diego native would get an opportunity off the bench in an important road game against the Orlando Magic.
In 21 minutes, Dudley scored 9 points and grabbed 2 rebounds on 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range. However, his most notable moment of the game came in a 4th quarter skirmish. Former Magic center Dwight Howard was fouled after grabbing a rebound and was surrounded after the whistle by Mo Bamba, Jonathan Issac, and Michael Carter-Williams.
Howard was clearly not appreciative of the swarming around him, so he took swipes at all three players. Then, Magic swingman Wes Iwundu came in and exchanged pushes and words with Howard. Jared Dudley would then enter into the fray and give a hard shove with both hands towards Iwundu; actually, he shoved Terrence Ross into Iwundu and two other players, escalating the situation.
When the dust settled, four technicals were called and Dudley and Iwundu were ejected. The Lakers were displeased at the decision to eject Dudley but they appreciated how he came to Dwight Howard's defense. The team, including coach Frank Vogel, was also appreciative of the quality minutes and production he provided in emergency.
“Duds" played a role in a victory that helped the Lakers get to a 22-3 record, tied with the Milwaukee Bucks for the league’s best record. As the Lakers have entered into the championship conversation (and conversation for 70 wins), Anthony Davis and LeBron James have consistently been dominant on both ends of the court.
Vogel has established a rugged, defensive mentality, aided by a deep bench of assistants such as Jason Kidd, Lionel Hollins, Phil Handy and Miles Simon. However, the team’s role players also will play a vital role and veterans like Jared Dudley will be called upon in key moments. On Wednesday night, he finally got the chance to display what he is capable of.Published 12 Dec 2019, 17:40 IST