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Lakers blow 15-point lead to fall late to Pacers

Lakers blow 15 point lead to fall late to Pacers


Fifteen months ago, the Lakers won the NBA championship and Frank Vogel was lauded for being the steward who guided the franchise to its 17th title that tied it with the Boston Celtics for the most in league history.

Some two hours before the Lakers were set to play the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, Vogel sat behind a desk answering questions about his job status.

His position as coach of the Lakers seemingly had become a cloudy situation, with reports that his job was in peril because of his team’s poor play.

On nights like Wednesday, when the Lakers blow a 15-point lead and drop a 111-104 game to a now 16-29 Indiana Pacers team, that’s when the talk about Vogel’s job being in jeopardy gets noisy.

Even with five players scoring in double figures, the Lakers lost a game because their defense was poor in the fourth quarter.

LeBron James tried to do his part with a double-double of 30 points and 12 rebounds, making him the 42nd player in NBA history with 10,000 rebounds.

The loss that dropped the Lakers to 22-23 was even more disconcerting because Russell Westbrook and Trevor Ariza started walking toward the locker room with 8.4 seconds left in the game at Crypto.com Arena.

Westbrook had another of his horrible shooting nights, going five for 17 from the field for 14 points. He had a plus-minute rating of minus-18.

“This is definitely a disappointing loss, against a team sub .500, on our home court,” Vogel said. “We feel like we should win. And you got to win the games you feel like you can win.”

So, even with Vogel back at work and ready to lead the Lakers against the Pacers, his team didn’t follow suit.

“I don’t feel like I’m under siege,” Vogel said before the game. “It’s not hard to do my job. I’m very focused on the task at hand. I’ve always been that way. It’s really not up to me whether it’s fair or not. It comes with the territory, comes with being the Lakers coach.”

The Lakers fell apart on defense in the fourth quarter, giving up 34 points.

They didn’t come close to slowing down Caris Levert, who had 30 points on 12-for-16 shooting, including three for four on three-pointers.

Vogel is in charge of a team with stars James, Westbrook and injured Anthony Davis (left knee sprain), and the expectations are high.

The Lakers had been considered contenders for the championship, but the team is not meeting those expectations.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel drops his mask to yell plays to his team against the Indiana Pacers at Crypto.com arena on Wednesdday.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Vogel was asked if the front office of Rob Pelinka, the Lakers’ vice president of basketball operations and general manager, and Kurt Rambis, the team’s senior basketball adviser, had provided any feedback.

“On my job performance? None,” Vogel said. “I mean, we … I meet with our front office. We talk about the previous night’s game. Every game. All year. It’s been that way for three years. And it’s not been different this week or of late.”

From the very beginning, Vogel has been a rock for the Lakers, standing tall for them during the first season in which they went through as calamitous of an NBA season ever.

The Lakers dealt with a preseason controversy in China, the tragic death of team icon Kobe Bryant, a pause in the season because of the COVID-19 pandemic and then winning the NBA championship inside the isolation of the bubble on the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando, Fla.

Having done all that, Vogel was asked before the game if he was surprised to have so much heat on him.

“I don’t pay attention to whether it’s surprising or not,” he said. “In this business, and with this team, if you’re not winning at a super high level, you’re gonna get this type of noise. I’m good at blocking that out. I feel good about the job that we’re doing.”

Vogel said his relationship with the front office is the “same as it’s been for three years” since his arrival.

He works with Pelinka and Rambis and they collaborate on what’s best for the Lakers.

“It’s healthy. Everyone is working together to leave no stone unturned in terms of getting this thing going in the right direction. And we all have a great working relationship where we’re trying to figure out things together.

“We won a championship this way, and I feel good about our process.”





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