LA Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is a man under pressure. After the Lakers Gold stumbled to a 104-111 loss on their home floor against the visiting Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night, Vogel's position as head of coaching staff of the purple-and-gold franchise is under immense scrutiny. Vogel has further increased the speculation around his position by going after Russell Westbrook in his post-game interaction with the media following the loss to Indiana.
In context to the whole episode, Vogel benched Westbrook for the last 3:52 of the game. Westbrook had shot just 5-of-17 (29.7%) from the field for his 14 points up to that point. When asked about his decision to leave Westbrook out for the final four minutes, Vogel made a comment that appeared to be a blunt indictment of Westbrook's inefficient shooting night. Vogel said:
"Playing the guys I thought were going to win the game."
Vogel's remark left those in attendance in stunned silence for a few seconds. It has caused widespread speculation about his future, with Westbrook, too, adding fuel to the fire by leaving Crypto.com Arena without speaking to reporters.
LA Lakers outscored 30-19 by Indiana Pacers over final 9:30
The LA Lakers appeared to be in control of their contest against the Indiana Pacers for much of the game. They led 85-81 with about 9:30 minutes left in the game, but were then outscored 19-30 the rest of the way as they lost their 23rd game of the season.
Besides Westbrook, who endured a torrid shooting night, LeBron James came up with 30 points, 12 rebounds and five assists for the team. It was LeBron's 15th consecutive 25-point game this season. Talen Horton-Tucker chipped in with 20 points and seven assists off the bench, but with the Lakeshow only shooting 44.4% from the field and 32.4% from downtown, they suffered their 23rd loss of the season.
The Purple and Gold now begin a six-game road trip with visits to Miami, Brooklyn and Philadelphia, among other opponents. However, their schedule isn't going to give them too much scope to relax since they have a lot more road games (23) compared to home matchups (14) left to play over the remainder of their season.
One silver lining for the LA Lakers is that Anthony Davis, who has missed games for more than a month due to injury, has been cleared for an on-court ramp-up with contact. This, hopefully, means that Davis could soon make a return for the embattled franchise.