Lakers vs. Clippers takeaways: Jarred Vanderbilt's offensive rebounding a positive sign

Los Angeles Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt (2) dunks during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Perhaps the clearest sign that Jarred Vanderbilt is starting to round into form was his work on the offensive glass for the Lakers.

Vanderbilt has been at his best for the Lakers when he is active, flying around and being a force on defense, and that was pretty much what the Lakers got from him during their 127-116 loss to the Clippers on Tuesday night at Arena.

“I try to go as much as possible,” said Vanderbilt, who collected six of his nine rebounds on the offensive end. “Sometimes if the numbers are down, try to get back. But it’s kind of putting that pressure on the offensive glass, trying to create advantages and get extra possessions for the team.”

Vanderbilt has played in just 24 games for the Lakers this season while recovering from a left heel injury.

Read more: Clippers' offense cooks while LeBron James watches Lakers lose

The all-around effort he exhibited in which he scored 12 points, blocked one shot and had three steals suggested he is back to playing at the high level the Lakers saw last season.

Not yet, he said.

“I’m still working my way back,” Vanderbilt said. “I still feel like I’m getting my legs under me, but each and every game I feel like I’m getting better. Just to try to get my feel back, get my rhythm back and just kind of slow down a little bit. I think my feet are kind of moving faster than I would like right now.”

Vanderbilt was good on defense, too, at times guarding Kawhi Leonard or Paul George, two of the Clippers’ top offensive weapons.

But Vanderbilt said he’s still trying to get right, saying he doesn’t have a timetable on when that will happen.

“I mean, right now, it’s midseason for a lot of guys. But for me it’s still getting back into that midseason form,” he said. “So, like I said, each and every game I feel like it’s kind of got better. So, keep doing the right things and keep progressing.”

Lakers were subpar on defense

Clippers guard James Harden drives past Lakers forward Rui Hachimura during the first half of Tuesday's game.

By the half, the Lakers had surrendered 77 points to the Clippers.

By the end of the game, even after the Lakers allowed 50 points in the second half, they still saw the Clippers shoot lights out against them.

The Clippers shot 59% from the field for the game, including 51.9% from three-point range.

‘We had a couple of breakdowns, but for the most part, they made some tough, tough shots,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “Austin Reaves had a couple of possessions where you can't play any better defense on James [Harden] or Kawhi. … Our guys competed. They competed their butts off. If you close out the wrong way or you're not doubling in a timely fashion, they're going to make you pay. That's just who they are. How they're built.”

Lakers hit the offensive boards

The Lakers used their ability to collect offensive rebounds to stay in the game.

They had 13 of them, using their size against the Clippers when they played small ball.

Read more: Elliott: 'They're in a really good rhythm.' Clippers happy to just keep winning

“Yeah, I think for us in general, we have a lot of size on our team,” said Vanderbilt, who had those six offensive rebounds. “So, just continue to utilize that size and take advantage of it. Not only for me but for other guys as well. Just continue to pound the glass and use our size and athleticism to crash and I think we’re talented enough to do both, being able crash and get back. So, I think that’s our next step.”

Anthony Davis had four of his 12 rebounds on the offensive end.

D’Angelo Russell had two and Rui Hachimura had one.

“It's something we identified, talked about, been talking about, but really made it emphasis this morning at shootaround. We have five, six guys who can really get us some money on the offensive glass, in terms of getting extra possessions for us,” Ham said. “And certain guys whose job is going to be to just support whoever is crashing. They have to sprint back and start our transition defense early. It's something we definitely identified and it went well tonight.”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.