The Los Angeles Lakers are certainly at a low point of a difficult 2021-22 season. They sit at eight games below .500 and have lost four straight since the All-Star break. Head coach Frank Vogel has dealt with just about everything, from job security rumors to a lackluster roster.
Now, his team is closer to missing the Play-In Tournament completely than they are to the No. 8 seed. They sit just one game ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans for No. 10 and two games ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers at No. 11.
In order to avoid a worst-case scenario fate of dropping out of the Play-In Tournament, Vogel and the Lakers must quickly find a way to win games. And that’s exactly what Vogel and his coaching staff have been searching for.
“We’re just persistent and staying with the work,” Vogel said after the loss to the L.A. Clippers on Thursday night.
“We’re relentlessly seeking solutions to get us playing better and we come in the next day with some tweaks or fundamentals that need to be better or ways that we can improve our team and no stone unturned in terms of trying to find solutions to get this right, but it hasn’t taken shape, but there’s no quit in us, we will continue to persist. We’re trying to adjust and find ways to win with Anthony [Davis] out. We haven’t found that yet. It’s not something we can’t do. We just haven’t found it yet. It’s a disappointing loss and we just got to persist.”
Vogel spoke about L.A.’s struggles on the defensive end, which has been his biggest adjustment as a usually steadfast defensive head coach.
“I take pride in it, so it’s very difficult. But like I said, we’re continuing to evolve and try different things,” Vogel said. “Trying things I’ve never done as a coach. Just to try to junk things up a little bit. Try to get some momentum behind our defense. We’re middle of the pack, but I’m surprised that we’re even middle of the pack. Just disappointed on how that’s gone for our group here.
“Played a heavy volume of zone early in the season,” Vogel said of his biggest adjustment. “Playing small ball, where we’re switching everything right now. Everything like one through five. Pick-and-roll one through five. Pin downs. Just trying to play a different brand of basketball when you’re playing small trying to space the other team out. Those are probably two of the big ones.”
Vogel — a coach usually resistant to change unless absolutely necessary — has forgone everything about his defensive identity to try and match the roster he was given. Clearly, everything they’ve done to this point has failed.
Now, they have just 20 games remaining to figure out some sort of recipe that not only keeps them in the Play-In Tournament, but gives them a chance to get to the first round of the playoffs.
Vogel disappointed for fans
After losing to the L.A. Clippers in blowout fashion, Vogel expressed disappointment on behalf of the fans. Not only for the loss, but for being swept by the Clippers in the season series for the second straight year.
“It’s harder for me because I know our fanbase wants to win this ‘Battle for LA’ and that the fans embrace,” Vogel said. “So I’m disappointed for our Lakers fans for that, but at the end of the day, they’re a Western Conference team that beat us four times. It doesn’t matter that they’re in the same city.”
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