Finally, after a long drawn out, and up & down season for the 2021-22 Los Angeles Lakers they were officially eliminated from the “Play-In” tournament Tuesday night after a 121-110 loss (seven straight losses) to the Phoenix Suns. They were swept by Phoenix 4-0. Which I believe Phoenix made sure to take personally, after hearing chatter about them being down 2-1 in the playoffs series to the Lakers before Anthony Davis got hurt in Game 4 and the only reason they came back to beat them was because of Davis’s injury.
This loss combined with a San Antonio Spurs win put the Lakers three games behind them because the Spurs owned the tie-breaker over Los Angeles.
This Lakers team led by LeBron James will miss the playoffs for the second time since joining the purple & gold back in 2018. James sat out the loss to Phoenix nursing his ankle that he injured against the New Orleans Pelicans back on March 27th. With James failure to get his team to at least the Play-In tournament ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said he is now officially removed from the “GOAT Debate” with him and Michael Jordan. Definitely to many, this Lakers team should definitely be better than their record 31-48.
They have the second worst record in the league since the All-Star break (4-17) only to the Portland Trailblazers. A lot of people will point at injuries to James and Davis for a huge reason for their record with James missing 23 games and Davis missing 39 games. They have had 39 different starting lineups so it’s tough for any team to build any type of chemistry and be taken seriously for title contention.
Head coach Frank Vogel who has received a lot of criticism for his team’s record will unfortunately take a bulk of this blame heading into the offseason. I don’t agree with that, and neither did former Lakers point guard and champion Derek Fisher who spoke about his former team’s failure this season on Spectrum Sports Network (Lakers Channel). “Under the circumstances, how is he (Vogel) supposed to do better than what he did if the three guys that are supposed to do the most, are together the least?” He couldn’t have said that any better.
It’s hard to win at any level when you’re missing your best players consistently.
He did have a former MVP and newly acquired Russell Westbrook for majority of these games as he only missed one game thus far. He did suit up for the Lakers against Phoenix scoring 28 points, but none of that mattered as he along with everyone else in that Lakers locker room was disappointed with the way this season will come to an end. Westbrook spoke after the loss and his team being officially eliminated, “Obviously it’s disappointing on many levels, but not much we can do about it at this point.”
There’s nothing they can do about it now and no one associated with the other 29 teams will feel bad for them. For the simple fact the purple & gold have 17 total championships along with the Boston Celtics and the next closest franchise is the Chicago Bulls with six.
After the loss head coach Vogel on how his team got to this point,” Of late my whole thought process has been centered around winning the next game and staying alive.” Now he’s got to keep his team together for the final three games against the Golden State, Oklahoma City, and Denver. They have absolutely nothing to play for and they live in a beautiful place like Los Angeles, so that can be a recipe for absolute quitting.
“We’ll see what’s best for our group and finish the season with pride.” Vogel said.
As a Lakers fan, it’s too late to play with pride now. We’ve been waiting to see that since preseason, well at least I was.