For the first 20 minutes of their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers looked like they were on their way to an easy win and third straight victory. But things would go downhill for Frank Vogel’s team as they would blow a 26-point lead, giving the Thunder their first win of the season.
The loss was a thoroughly disappointing one for the Lakers as not only did they blow a huge lead, but they did so to a team in Oklahoma City largely considered to be one of the worst in the entire NBA. Even with LeBron James still sidelined, it was a winnable game, as was shown by the ease in which the Lakers built their lead.
Vogel believes the reason for the Lakers’ collapse was a simple one, and a lesson for all NBA teams. “I think we took our foot off the gas after that big first-quarter lead, which happens in the NBA,” Vogel said after the contest, echoing the sentiments of many watching the comeback unfold.
“Usually, you can catch yourselves and sustain it but we weren’t able to do that both in that second quarter and particularly that third quarter in the second half. The ball stopped moving side to side. I got to do a better job making sure that our guys are moving it side to side. Our focus, intensity and effort on the defensive end, that slipped as well. Disappointing loss, but lesson learned. NBA season is a long season and a lesson for our group that you can’t ever take your foot off the gas for anyone.”
The Lakers were clearly the more talented team, but Oklahoma City always plays hard and once L.A. allowed them a little confidence, they were unable to slow them down. Even down the stretch, the youth and inexperience of the Thunder crept up giving the Lakers numerous chances to steal back a victory, but they were unable to take advantage.
With questions already surrounding the Lakers after this start to the 2021-22 season, a loss like this is sure to exacerbate those concerns. But despite the initial hurt of this loss, Vogel believes games of this nature will be good for the team in the long run.
“It’s not fun in the moment when you lose a game like that. But I think, at the end of the day if we’re pushed every night like this, it’s going to sharpen us. It’ll be good for us in the long run. But you have to play through that and find a way to win.”
If there is a silver lining for the Lakers right now it is that they are not only missing LeBron James, but also many other role players who could greatly help the team. Once the Lakers are at 100% things could be much different, but in the meantime, they must make do with what they have and pick up wins any way they can.
Vogel believes Lakers still have elite defensive potential
One of the main reasons for the Lakers’ struggles so far this season has been their lackluster defense. The team lost all of their top perimeter defenders from a season ago, but Vogel still believes the Lakers can be great on that end of the floor.
“We have elite rim protection,” Vogel said. “We’re not as gifted with perimeter defenders as we’ve been in the last couple years but our scheme is pretty simple in terms of asking guys really to chase guys inside the 3-point line into our lane and I believe the group that we have here can do it and our goal is to be a top defense.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!