Lakers head coach Frank Vogel continued his recent trend of making questionable lineup changes on Friday by starting Dion Waiters in place of a healthy Danny Green and benching JaVale McGee for Dwight Howard. The latter of those two decisions actually made some sense because of how dominant Andre Drummond is on the glass, but Virtual Vogel’s rotation and late-game play-calling cost the Lakers an otherwise winnable game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers got out to an early 14-point lead led by Kevin Love, who scored 10 of his team-high 28 points in the first quarter. That probably had something to do with the fact that Vogel’s first sub of the game was Waiters for JaVale McGee, leaving the Lakers with a five-man lineup of Rajon Rondo, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard. Yuck.
The Lakers managed to crawl back into the game, though, thanks to James’ determination to put on a show for his hometown. James scored a game-high 46 points on 14-21 shooting from the field, and grabbed 7 rebounds. James’ 46 points is a new season-high.
By the fourth quarter, though, the Lakers and Cavaliers were knotted up — and with the lack of defensive effort from both sides, it stayed that way for most of the frame. However, with 8.7 seconds left in the game, the Lakers had an opportunity to take the lead with a basket — it didn’t need to be a 3-pointer, just a basket. So what does Vogel do?
The ironic part about that play is that Rondo made a clutch 3-pointer to tie the game at 103 just a minute before he clanked that 3-point attempt off of the front of the rim. If the Lakers needed a three, it would have made some sense to go to Rondo again, but they didn’t! All they needed was two points for the win, and because of Vogel’s head-scratching play out of the timeout, they lost.
Oh, and to top it all off, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Avery Bradley and Alex Caruso were DNP-CDs again. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.
The Lakers have now lost two straight games and are 55-16 on the season. We’ll see what Fake Vogel does with the lineup against the Washington Wizards on Saturday, but if it’s more of the same, his seat could get warm right before the playoffs.