The Los Angeles Lakers take on the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday in what will be their final home game of January. Shortly after the game is over, the Lakers will embark on a six-game road trip while the Grammy Awards take place (except the Grammys are now postponed due to COVID-19, but the team can’t reschedule their longest road trip of the season. Welp).
The Lakers are coming off what was arguably their best win of the season, a 101-95 victory over the now 29-15 Utah Jazz. Flip that record around and you have the 15-29 Pacers, with Wednesday’s game serving as an opportune moment to string together two wins before a long road trip that could reportedly feature the return of one Anthony Davis.
All that felt more notable, of course, before The Athletic’s report early Tuesday morning that head coach Frank Vogel is at risk of being fired, with his job being evaluated on a game-to-game basis. With all of that in mind, here’s our preview of the game against the Pacers that may turn out to be far more impactful than previously predicted.
Is Wednesday’s game a must-win for Frank Vogel?
The timing of the report is objectively hilarious (and annoying) considering it came out mere hours after the Lakers beat the fourth-seeded Jazz, but apparently, this feeling from the front office was brewing since the embarrassing 37-point loss to the Nuggets on Saturday.
(That sort of makes me think that the front office was secretly anticipating a loss to the Jazz on Monday and planning to fire Vogel after, but I digress. Back to the preview of the Pacers game...)
As if Vogel’s seat hasn’t been hot enough this season, it’s now reaching heat levels usually only found on the sun, even if the L.A. Times’ Dan Woike reported late Tuesday afternoon that there were “no current plans” to fire Vogel.
The word “current” is doing a lot of work in that three-word phrase, as we’ve come to realize that things can drastically change in an instant when it comes to the Lakers.
If a 37-point loss to the 22-20 Nuggets had the front office ready to fire Vogel, then what about a 15-point loss to the lowly Pacers, a team set for a fire sale at the trade deadline. What about a 10-point loss? A 5-point loss?
These are the uncertainties that Vogel now has to face after the most concrete report of dissatisfaction with him from the Lakers’ front office so far. We can debate whether or not Vogel deserves it all the way until the Grammys’ re-scheduled date, but no one can deny that this puts unneeded pressure on Vogel and the team to execute and do their jobs to the absolute best of their abilities.
Every run that the Pacers or future opponents go on will now carry a heavier weight to it. The thought of Vogel’s job security will be tied to every single in-game swing, barring some massive fortune shift for this team.
We’ll see how Vogel and the team respond through their play and decisions on Wednesday night in a game against the Pacers that they really should win. If they don’t, only 48 hours removed from beating one of the best teams in the league, well, the Lakers may have a different head coach before they even leave for their trip.
Notes and Updates
- On the Lakers’ injury report, Anthony Davis and Kendrick Nunn will remain out, with the latter of those two having a setback recently that will delay his season debut even further.
- Carmelo Anthony will be questionable with lower back tightness that has kept him out of three straight games, however, Vogel did say before the Jazz game on Monday that Anthony was getting better.
- The Pacers will be without Myles Turner, who will be sidelined beyond the Feb. 10th trade deadline with a stress reaction in his left foot. Turner has been heavily involved in trade rumors, even being reported as a player that the Lakers may have an interest in.
- T.J. McConnell will also be out for Indiana as he recovers from surgery he had in early December, while the Pacers’ other T.J. will continue to be out as well, as T.J. Warren recovers from a foot injury he sustained last season. He is yet to make his season debut.
- Malcolm Brogdon will come into this one questionable with a sore right Achilles. He missed the Pacers’ game on Monday against the Clippers with this injury.
- Around the league, trade rumors continue to swirl with specific demands from the Pacers for Turner’s services being reported. In addition, it was also reported that the Wizards are the current favorites to land the Pistons’ Jerami Grant. The Lakers have been connected to both players.
The Lakers and Pacers will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. PT, with the game being televised on Spectrum SportsNet.