Lakers’ Frank Vogel ‘Going Down Swinging’ With Comments: Analyst

Frank Vogel, Lakers

Getty Frank Vogel, Lakers

Now that we have gotten to the very odd NBA position of having the Lakers’ Frank Vogel working on what seems to be a game-to-game basis, we can only expect that the hot-seated head coach will shrug off and strike back at the organization that seems bent on making him a scapegoat, at least where he can.

That appeared to be a driver behind Vogel’s comments at the end of Wednesday night’s distressing loss to the Pacers, in which the Lakers held a fourth-quarter lead in the final nine minutes before getting blitzed by Indiana down the stretch thanks largely to the 22 points in the quarter they allowed to guard Caris LeVert.

Perhaps no one player symbolized the Lakers’ struggles like guard Russell Westbrook, who scored three points in the quarter and was benched for the final 3:52 of the game. Westbrook had 14 points in the game and was just 5-for-17 shooting.

When Vogel was asked about the benching after the game, his answer immediately shot across the NBA’s social-media universe.

“Playing the guys that I thought were going to win the game,” Vogel said, flatly. While most in the media interview room appeared to await more elaboration from Vogel, he simply left it there.

From the vantage point of one prominent NBA observer, Vogel’s response spoke volumes.

“I love this so much,” tweeted Ringer founder and former ESPN personality Bill Simmons. “They’re determined to make Vogel the scapegoat for the dumb Westbrook trade and a broken roster, and he knows it, so he’s going down swinging.”

Losing to the Pacers Was ‘Disappointing’

Simmons is right that Vogel certainly appeared to be taking matters into his own hands during the loss to the Pacers, even though, in the end, his decisions did not work out. The Lakers played no better with Westbrook on the floor than with him off the floor and benching him did not stop the Lakers from dropping their fourth game in five outings.

Coming off an encouraging win over the Jazz on Monday, after which it was reported by The Athletic that Vogel was, essentially, coaching for his job, this was not what Vogel was hoping for.

Frank Vogel Postgame Interview | Los Angeles Lakers lose to the Indiana Pacers 111-104Frank Vogel Postgame Interview | Los Angeles Lakers lose to the Indiana Pacers 111-1042022-01-20T06:17:58Z

“Very frustrating,” Vogel said. “But it’s a long season and we believe in our group. This is definitely a disappointing loss. Indy is a team that, sub-.500 on our homecourt, that we feel like we should win. You gotta win the games you feel like you should win. So, disappointing loss.”

Vogel Move on Westbrook Was ‘Sanctioned’

That helps explain, too, why almost immediately after the game, a story popped up from Lakers insider Dave McMenamin of ESPN saying that the benching of Westbrook was sanctioned by the team—again, an odd step for an organization to take.

McMenamin wrote, “Coach Frank Vogel was given assurances that the organization would support him in taking a hard line while coaching the star, sources told ESPN. Over the past week and a half, Lakers management has told the coaching staff to coach Westbrook as the coaches see fit, even if that means pulling him from a game.”

This is where we are with the Lakers. The idea that a coach somehow needs an organizational OK to make an in-game substitution is bizarre, any way you look at it. So maybe we should look out for Vogel to keep on “swinging.”


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