Frank Vogel: Lakers Have To Improve When Holding Big Leads
Frank Vogel, Lakers
Jonathan Daniel-Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers are clearly in a class of their own and continued what’s been a dominant start to the 2020-21 season by picking up another win against the Chicago Bulls.

Anthony Davis recently was critical of his play, but he did not disappoint in a return to his hometown of Chicago. Davis led all players with 37 points to go along with six rebounds and two steals.

The Bulls had no answer for Davis who looked well on his way to scoring 50 points before being shut down in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers played arguably their most complete half of the season to date as they held the Bulls to only 33 points and walked into halftime with a 33-point lead. However, the team experienced another letdown in the third quarter as poor offensive possessions and careless turnovers allowed Chicago to climb back into the game.

“We’ve got to be better. That’s the simplest way to put it. Last game we gave up a lead, we lost,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said.

“We talked about that at halftime, we came out and didn’t play the third quarter the way we were supposed to and really approach that whole second half the way we’re supposed to. So we’ll learn from it and hopefully get better next time.

“Hopefully we’re going to be up again by 20 to 30 at halftime at some point and we’ll draw back on this experience, knowing we didn’t do well enough and we have to be better in the future.”

This has become a common occurrence for the Lakers this season as they oftentimes will build large leads and then almost immediately lose focus and sustain a drop in effort for large stretches.

The most recent example — which Vogel referenced — came against the Golden State Warriors. The Lakers went up by as many 19 points before the Warriors came back and won in the final few minutes of the fourth quarter.

L.A.’s bench was able to right the ship against Chicago as they brought the defensive intensity that had been missing. LeBron James and Davis were able to sit the entire fourth quarter, but it looked like they would have to re-enter after their letdown in the third.

These kinds of lapses are more irritating than concerning, but the Lakers have been clear about needing to use the regular season to build winning habits.

Vogel happy with Anthony Davis’ playmaking

Davis is an otherworldly offensive talent, but it has been his passing and reading of defenses that has arguably been the most impressive thing about him this season. Vogel had nothing but praise for the 27-year-old’s growth in that area.

“That’s what I love about what he’s doing right now,” Vogel said. “It’s easy if you’re not carrying the scoring production that you’re used to, to try to force. I don’t feel like he’s done that, to his credit.

“We’re not asking him to do that. We do want him to be aggressive. When he’s aggressive he brings two to the ball, and he’s a great passer and a willing passer. He’s been making great decisions and our offense is really thriving as a group because of his willingness to make the extra pass. That’s something we want to continue to emphasize with him.”

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