The Lakers are in danger of missing the play-in tournament and their stars may not return in time to save them, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Tuesday’s loss at Dallas knocked L.A. into a 10th-place tie with San Antonio with seven games remaining, and the Spurs hold the tiebreaker because of a better conference record.
LeBron James missed the game against the Mavericks because of a sprained left ankle that he suffered Sunday. He has already been ruled out for Thursday’s contest at Utah and has been granted permission to return to Los Angeles for treatment and evaluation of the injury, Turner tweets.
Anthony Davis is listed as doubtful against the Jazz, but hopes to be ready for Friday’s game with the ninth-place Pelicans, sources told Turner. Davis, who hasn’t played since spraining his right foot and MCL on February 16, was “a little sore” after practicing Monday and the Lakers haven’t decided if it’s safe for him to play Friday.
There’s more Lakers news to pass along:
- Coach Frank Vogel was disappointed with how his team responded to the challenge against the Mavericks, Turner states in the same piece. With a chance to solidify their play-in position, the Lakers fell way behind early in the game. “We executed very poorly to start the game and really that whole first half, with what our game plan was,” Vogel said. “And then as we tried to adjust to look at some Plan Bs and Plan Cs, we just didn’t execute well enough and play with enough toughness, IQ, intelligence, focus and fight in that half. So, not acceptable and just a poor performance across the board. Coaches, players, everybody.”
- Russell Westbrook had a testy exchange with reporters after Tuesday’s loss, Turner adds. Westbrook became irritated when he was asked what the team has to do for the rest of the season and challenged media members to come up with a solution. “I’m only one person. It’s a team game,” he said. “So, I don’t have an answer. You may have it.”
- Vogel is likely to be replaced after the season ends, and a source told Harrison Wind of DNVR that Nuggets coach Michael Malone could have been a prime target if he hadn’t signed an extension with Denver (Twitter link).
- Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report reviews the mistakes the Lakers have made that caused them go from a championship team to a floundering also-ran in two seasons. The Westbrook trade was an obvious error, but Pincus also points to a lack of roster continuity after the 2020 title and a troubling pattern of letting young talent leave without sufficient compensation.