After clinching the top seed in the Western Conference on Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers looked like a team taking their foot off the gas against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Lakers were dominated in a 105-86 loss and most concerning for head coach Frank Vogel’s team were some things that have become a regular occurrence for the team in Orlando.
Much of the angst has come due to the Lakers’ poor shooting as they once again failed to crack 40% from the field, but the bigger worry might be the team’s tendency for slow starts. The Lakers have stuck with their starting lineup of LeBron James, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Danny Green, Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee, which went 17-4 prior to the hiatus.
Aside from the first quarter against the L.A. Clippers, the team has gotten off to awful starts to begin halves in the NBA restart. In their matchup with the Clippers, the Lakers were outscored 14-1 to start the third quarter.
In the following game against the Toronto Raptors, the Lakers fell behind 13-0 to start the game, and against the Utah Jazz the Lakers allowed a 10-2 run to kick off the second half. Many believe that Vogel should make a change to the Lakers’ starting lineup.
“Part of what we’re learning is some things are not working,” Vogel said after the latest loss. “Obviously, when something’s not working you either change the personnel or change the way you’re using them. Those are the things we’re looking at right now.”
Vogel was then specifically asked if he was considering the lineup. “We’ll see. We’re looking at everything,” he answered.
“But it’s bigger than that. Looking at our bench guys, we’re working in some new guys, you have to learn how to use them, what combinations they fit best with. So we’re looking at everything.”
Vogel is certainly right in that the Lakers’ problems stretch beyond the starting lineup. The team has shot the ball horribly and their effort on defense has been up and down in Orlando. But there is no doubting they can’t afford to continually fall behind each half if they plan on accomplishing their ultimate goal of winning a championship.
The last seeding games are a time for Vogel to figure out the best lineups and rotations for the Lakers moving forward, and establishing an offensive rhythm that has escaped the team thus far. While he can’t focus solely on the starting lineup, Vogel has to look closely at every possibility to get the Lakers on track before the playoffs.
Vogel believes Lakers took a step back in loss to Thunder
The Lakers had their worst showing of the seeding games as they fell to the Thunder by 19 points. Shooting continues to be an issue in the bubble, but Vogel noted a decline across the board.
“You want to continue to prove each game and build your rhythm,” he said. “I thought we took a step back tonight in terms of our overall energy and execution.”
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