Lakers coach Frank Vogel believes fans and the media are overreacting to an 0-2 start, writes Bill Oram of The Athletic. Friday night was particularly bad for L.A. as the team was blown out by the Suns in a game that saw Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard get into a sideline altercation, Rajon Rondo have a dispute with a courtside fan, and Vogel receive a technical foul after running onto the court to question a call.
“We’re just disappointed that we’re not winning, that’s all,” Vogel said. “Look, these are some of the greatest players ever to play because of their competitive spirit. If you don’t win, there’s going to be frustration. That’s what makes them great.”
The Lakers are still learning to play together after having the largest roster turnover in the league during the offseason, with just three players remaining from last year’s team. They added a group of former All-Stars, but there are concerns that the roster is too old and doesn’t fit well together. Oram suggests that Friday’s performance reflects a lack of discipline as well.
“I think that can get overly blown when you lose a game,” LeBron James told reporters. “You have some techs here, you see an altercation. You start saying, ‘OK, these guys are ultimately … the whole thing’s frustration.’ Well, we’re competitors. If you don’t get mad at certain things on the floor that you feel like you should have done better, then what are you here for?”
There’s more on the Lakers:
- Russell Westbrook was significantly better on Friday than he was in the season opener, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Westbrook put up familiar statistics with 15 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists and was able to drive to the rim several times. L.A. played without a center for part of the fourth quarter, and Buha expects Vogel to continue to experiment with lineups to find the best combination to go with Westbrook.
- Austin Reaves helped the Lakers rally in the fourth quarter and is making a bid to be part of the regular rotation, Buha adds. The rookie guard gives the offense another play-maker and a three-point threat. “We’re learning about our team,” Vogel said. “Gave some of the other wings a chance, the first chance. Weren’t getting much done as a group in the first three quarters, and as a coach, when you’re down big, you try to change the game with a small lineup and a different guy at the wing. And Austin came in and played really well.”
- Wayne Ellington‘s season debut will be delayed at least one more game, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Ellington has been ruled out for Sunday’s contest with a strained hamstring, but the team hopes he’ll be available sometime during the coming week.