In a must-win game on Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers unfortunately fell short against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Sitting in the 11th seed, the Lakers now face an even steeper climb to get into the Play-In Tournament as both the Pelicans and Spurs own season tiebreakers over them. With only five games left, Los Angeles needs to be near-perfect while simultaneously hoping New Orleans and San Antonio falter down the stretch.
Head coach Frank Vogel had to have been pleased with how his team competed in such a high-stakes matchup, but lamented the lack of offensive execution in the final moments.
“They just made more plays than us,” Vogel said of why things went south down the stretch. “We’re missing free throws, they hit a couple tough floaters, BI and McCollum. We had one breakdown where we didn’t get out to Valenciunas and he made the three and we didn’t convert offensively down the stretch. We had a couple good looks that didn’t go in for us and they just made more plays down the stretch.”
Mathematically it is going to be incredibly difficult for the Lakers to catch the Pelicans and Spurs in the standings but Vogel’s message to the team remained simple.
“Win as many games as we can. It’s gonna be tough to catch [the Pelicans] obviously now with the lead they have and the tiebreaker, but we have plenty of time to win as many games as we can down the stretch and see what happens with San Antonio.”
It is an understatement to say that things have not gone L.A.’s way during the 2021-22 season, but there is no reason for them to throw in the towel despite the odds because of the lack of draft capital they have. It would also be a poor look for them to give up, especially considering how well LeBron James has played in Year 19.
The rest of Los Angeles’ schedule is daunting and might remove any hope of a possible Play-In appearance, but with James and Anthony Davis back relatively healthy, they can not be ruled out. Sunday’s matchup against the Denver Nuggets will be another tough challenge, but they stand a chance if they show the same kind of fight they did against the Pelicans.
Frank Vogel says message to Lakers is to move on to Nuggets
Losing a close game to New Orleans has to sting for Los Angeles, but Vogel has done well in trying to keep them focused on the task ahead. In this case, he told his players that they needed to forget this loss quickly and move to the game against the Nuggets.
“There’s no challenge. The next game is in front of us. Recovery starts now. We’re playing essentially three games in three nights with a 12:30 start, that’s such a quick turnaround it’s ridiculous so mental and physical recovery starts now. As a coaching staff, you turn your attention to whatever you got to do to prepare for Denver.”
Vogel then concluded with one final message to his team.
“Put this one behind us. We competed, we fell short. We have to beat Denver. Start the recovery now.”
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