The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Utah Jazz on Monday night, 101-95, in a game that the team really needed to win. It came on the heels of a blowout loss to the Denver Nuggets to drop their record to below .500 more than halfway through the NBA season, which led to Magic Johnson openly criticizing them. Despite the return of Rudy Gobert and the continued absence of Anthony Davis, though, L.A. was able to come out on top.
No one is happier about the win than Frank Vogel, because according to a report by Sam Amick and Bill Oram of The Athletic, a loss would have meant that the Lakers’ coach would be out of a job. But despite picking up a win, Vogel isn’t out of the woods quite yet.
Vogel, who coached the Lakers to a championship in 2020 and whose contract runs through the 2022-23 campaign, is being evaluated on a game-to-game basis and remains at risk of being fired soon if the progress doesn’t continue, sources said. It’s unclear how much Monday’s win relieved the pressure that surrounds him.
It’s a very difficult hand for Vogel to be dealt a mere 15 months after winning a championship inside the NBA’s Orlando Bubble. Despite the fact that he hasn’t been perfect as a coach this season, L.A. has been bit by the injury and COVID bugs this season and had an almost totally overhauled roster around James and Davis coming into this season, which included the addition of Russell Westbrook in a trade.
Still, with the loft standards held by the Lakers, the team just has not been good enough this season, and Vogel appears most likely to take the fall for it. L.A. sits in seventh place in the Western Conference at 22-22, one full game behind Denver for the sixth seed. The team is 18th in defensive rating, 23rd in net rating, and 24th in offensive rating on the year. On Sundaygre, James tweeted out an apology and promised that they will “be better.”