Pacers’ loss a dose of reality for Lakers

LOS ANGELES (News4usonline) – The simple truth about the Los Angeles Lakers is that they are not a very good basketball team. After 45 games into the NBA regular season, the Lakers are who they are.

Losing a home game to the Indiana Pacers, the No. 13 team in the Eastern Conference, is not acceptable for a team coming into the season with championship aspirations.

Yes, the Lakers are missing a big component to their identity with Anthony Davis out because of an injury. But being outscored 35-24 in the fourth quarter and losing 111-104 to the Pacers, a team that has won a grand total of 16 games, leaves much to question about what the Lakers are doing.

“They got red hot and we couldn’t rebound the ball and they hit some three’s that separated the game,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said. “We had some possessions where we didn’t move the ball well enough, attack the paint well enough. I’ll go back and look at the tape and see where things really went wrong but it wasn’t enough in the fourth.”

If you’re the Lakers, you don’t lose to a team like the Pacers. But they did, and the finger-pointing has already started. Mainly in the direction of point guard Russell Westbrook, who made just 5 of his 17 field goal attempts. Westbrook finished the game with 14 points.

Westbrook, who has gone under a large amount of scrutiny due to his sporadic play, was subbed out of the game at the 3:52 mark of the fourth quarter. He did not come back into the game.

January 19, 2022. Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (39) skies for the rebound against the Indiana Pacers. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

Carmelo Anthony, who scored 14 points in the Lakers’ defeat to the Pacers, said there may not be anything more to the substitution that Vogel made.

“It’s an adjustment,” Anthony said. “I think I know what he’s dealing with, what he is going through. I’ve been there before. I don’t think it was anything personal from coach, you said he subbed him in the four minutes- I think Malik came in or something like that.

Anthony continued, “I don’t think it’s anything personal, it’s something that he’s not used to. You think somebody like that would be on the court but with the flow of the game it’s been times where I haven’t been in the game or other guys haven’t been in the game, so I don’t think it’s anything personal. It’s just something that we got to help him figure it out.”

It’s just not Westbrook that needs to figure some things out. The Lakers, as a whole, need to get it together. If they don’t, they will be watching the playoffs from home. The Lakers are currently the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, one step in front of the No. 9 Los Angeles Clippers, who are without both of their superstars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Being below .500 is not the standard the Lakers have set for themselves. After losing to Indiana, the Lakers dropped to 22-23 in the season, not exactly Laker-like for a franchise that has won 17 NBA titles.

January 19, 2022. Los Angeles Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony looks to connect with a jumper against the Indiana Pacers.
January 19, 2022. Los Angeles Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony looks to connect with a jumper against the Indiana Pacers.

“Very frustrating but it’s a long season and we believe in our group,” Vogel remarked. “This is definitely a disappointing loss. Indiana is a team that is sub .500 that on our home court, we feel like we should win. You have to win the games you feel like you should win. Disappointing loss.”

The only thing aspiring thing these days for the Lakers is the sustained great play that LeBron James (30 points, 12 rebounds) is bringing night in and night out. Other than that, Anthony, Talen Horton Tucker and Malik Monk have also been solid contributors. Westbrook has shown flashes of his all-around playmaking brilliance, but enough to be consistent.

After the game, James addressed reporters and talked about the level of frustration the team is dealing with.

“I hate losing so of course, there’s a level of frustration for sure,” James said. “We feel like we have a good enough team to be over .500 and win ball games. We are who we are. We can’t even sit here and say we should be this, we should be that. Our record is who we are. We are a sub .500 team as it stands today, and we have to play better. We have a heck of a road trip coming up and we will be tested. A lot of great teams. We’ll see what we’re made of.”

Featured Image Caption: January 19, 2022. Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) goes to the basket to complete the reverse layup against the Indiana Pacers. James scored 30 points and had 12 rebounds in the Lakers’ 111-104 loss to the Pacers. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline