This Week In Lakers: Bulls Loss, Pressure On Frank Vogel, LeBron’s Return

An inevitable fugue state followed Monday’s loss to the Bulls, 121-103. Due to both the pressure presented by LA’s penchant for above-average Lakers results and the 15-game sample size that blatantly looks like green basketball chemistry. At least according to the expectations set by the names on this roster; most notable of them, the newly-signed Russell Westbrook.LeBron James

Snapping out of the trance, LA’s fan base — cheering on the 8-7 squad — now wonders: when do things get better, and is that possible without LeBron James?

As for the timeline on better basketball, the wheels already appear to be in motion with pulling back on DeAndre Jordan and Kent Bazemore‘s usage per game. (A slight euphemism for needing to bench the heck out of those guys.)

And the best meditation to keep progress in motion is protecting Lakers head coach Frank Vogel from rabid LA fans, eager to win now.

While Vogel often waits for adjustments to be made game to game rather than quarter to quarter, the awareness displayed in 15 games alone shows he’s at least conscious of the problem. And aware that the Lakers’ play is siphoning the energy out of Staples with each crushing loss.

Though Chicago’s win at Staples provided more errors to fix rather than improvements to build on, Vogel’s use of Talen Horton-Tucker to run point over the turnover-happy Westbrook was a nice touch to the offense. Especially in LeBron’s absence.

Horton-Tucker finished Monday night with a career-high 28 points, which can be deemed the ultimate silver lining of the loss.

Vogel’s probably the most questionable Lakers tenure at Staples. Fans count on Vogel as the trusty scapegoat in most losses, but without his superstar and a couple of role players falling behind their forecasts, it’s time to gift the head coach some grace for the holidays.

Because they have to make it work this season — which is already speculated to be a sign of the end of the potentially short-lived AD hype in LA.

Los Angeles’ welcome of former New Orleans star Anthony Davis — joining LeBron, Vogel and the Lakers — couldn’t help but become a regular Hollywood fling. 

Now that the honeymoon is over, and the sparks, no pun intended, are running out, what is AD’s future in Los Angeles contingent on? 

LeBron James, of course.

AD’s biggest proponent leading up to the megadeal with New Orleans remains his crucial pin to the team. And with LeBron’s absence, Davis can gauge what his team will look like once the legend retires and he’s at the helm of an offense — last seen with the Pelicans.

LeBron’s mileage caught up to him last year when he played the least amount of games in a season (45) in the entirety of his 18-year run.

Now in his 19th season, LeBron has dealt with a two-game absence due to an ankle injury — per Hoops Wire’s Sam Amico — and an abdominal strain that has kept him out for seven straight games. James first suffered the strain against the Houston Rockets on Nov. 2.

This week’s buzz speculates that James will return from his latest injury at the start of their spree of road games — eyeing Friday’s game against the Boston Celtics for a return. This will be the second game on their week-long road trip, which will conclude against the Indiana Pacers next Wednesday (Nov. 4).

With the second most straightforward approach on behalf of Lakers nation being, Just wait until LeBron comes back, this may be what’s ultimately warranted to keep Vogel on track in applying the right rotations to play out on the court. Ball out of Westbrook’s hands, triple-team pried off AD and letting the 3-ball rain with LeBron’s adept spacing at work.

All to revive the aura of Lakers basketball at Staples in its final month of sporting the revered name.

Staples Center will be no longer as of Dec. 25 when the AEG-owned venue transforms into ‘Crypto.com Arena’ — a rebrand so off-putting that it galvanized all of Southern California upon its announcing Tuesday night.

The Lakers face off against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks (6-8) on Wednesday for their first game of the road trip.

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