The Los Angeles Lakers put up one of their best performances of the 2020-21 season on Friday night but still fell short against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Anthony Davis finally looked like the superstar the Lakers have become accustomed to seeing as he recorded a dominant 36-point, 12-rebound double-double to go along with five assists and a block. Davis nearly single-handedly delivered a win down the stretch, but Portland’s backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum were able to close the game out.
With the loss, the Lakers fell to the seventh seed and would be in the play-in tournament if the regular season ended today. However, head coach Frank Vogel admitted pregame against the Trail Blazers that he is not worried about it at all.
“For me, I’m unafraid of the play-in tournament with this team,” Vogel said. “I feel like we can beat anybody, but we definitely want to finish in the top six (laughs). There’s too many things that can happen in a one-game series. Foul trouble, roll of an ankle and anything like that could pop up, so we definitely want to finish in the top six. It’s a high priority for us, but at the same time, if we end up in the play-in tournament, we’re confident in our group.
“There might be a small silver lining in a couple more games or a game or two of this group playing with each other, but I think that’s minimal. To me, this is a tie-breaker game. It counts twice because we’re one game up in the standings with the tie-breaker, which means it counts twice, so it’s a bigger game than usual from that regard.”
Vogel has every right to feel confident about the Lakers’ chances if they do end up in the play-in tournament given the talent and defensive acumen of the roster. It would be a massive surprise if Los Angeles could not win at least one game against lower-leveled teams.
Vogel has previously said that the play-in tournament would not alter his approach to the remainder of the season, so fans should not be expecting any major changes to happen between now and the start of the playoffs.
Lakers would play with Warriors or Grizzlies in play-in tournament
At this point, it is likely the Lakers end up as the seventh seed but do not fall to eighth as they currently have a three-game lead. If the play-in tournament started today, they would face off against the Golden State Warriors although the Memphis Grizzlies might have a say. Memphis is only a half-game back of eighth so it could be them and Los Angeles duking it out.
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