As the Lakers took on the Indiana Pacers, Frank Vogel had to take some major decisions in a crunch game, which included benching Russell Westbrook.
In just their second game following LeBron James and the Lakers‘ promise to get better, they have lost to a 16-29 Pacers team. Despite such an impressive win over a back to full-strength Utah Jazz on Monday, the LA team failed to capitalize on their good start to the home game on Wednesday.
The Pacers visited LA with a woeful away record. Rick Carlisle’s team had 1 win in their last 9 away games and a total of just 4 away wins, but they looked like an entirely different team when they faced the Lakers.
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It’s been similar for many teams who have found it tough to find their footing this season. Whether it’s the OKC Thunder (14-30) or the Sacramento Kings (18-29), Frank Vogel’s team has contributed in more than 1 victory in those wins column which are some of the lowest numbers in the NBA as of now.
And the coach who is speculatively on the hot seat took some bold steps against the Pacers only to watch it all fail like all his plans this season.
Frank Vogel benches Russell Westbrook in crucial minutes
Several news outlets, who follow the Lakers’ front office closely, reported Tuesday that Vogel’s job is in serious jeopardy after his reconfigured roster’s 22-22 start to the season. The coach was reportedly close to being fired if Los Angeles hadn’t responded to a 37-point blowout loss in Denver last Saturday with an impressive win over the high-scoring Utah Jazz on Monday.
So on Wednesday, Frank might have decided to go full throttle after assessing the situation that his time in LA is limited. He ordered for the team’s primary point guard, Russell Westbrook, to stay on the bench in crucial minutes of the game as the Lakers trailed. After their 111-104 loss, the coach had to answer a few questions for his big decision in the game.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel on not closing out with Russell Westbrook: “Playing the guys that I thought were going to win the game.”
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) January 20, 2022
It’s a good answer and the step he took could have been taken a lot earlier to prevent the Purple and Gold team to go 22-23 in the season. Russell had an awful game again with 5/14 shooting, but he went 4/6 from the downtown. Any which way, it was a decent decision to keep him on the bench. But to play Stanley Johnson just 16 minutes was one of his several absurd decisions this season.
Stanley had 15 crucial points in the game against the Jazz where he also had 5 boards, 3 dimes, 2 blocks, and a steal in just 24 minutes. Why in the world did he get even lesser minutes than his last game? Most fans and experts have that question after the game.
Aren’t we all. 16mins for Stanley Johnson?
— Victor Leung (@victorleung) January 20, 2022
It might be a complete management decision to put Carmelo Anthony in for the final minutes as a 4 or 5 and let him make four bad defensive plays. If so, Frank’s statement could be a subtle dig but if it was totally his decision, then it could be the final nail in his sacking.