3 overreactions from the Lakers’ loss to Thunder

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The Los Angeles Lakers are 5-4 after losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday.

Los Angeles had a 19-point lead in the second quarter but couldn’t sustain it. The Thunder cut the deficit by halftime, despite strong first-half numbers for Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis.

The game stayed relatively close until the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter when the Thunder took the lead thanks to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s ridiculous shotmaking, including a logo 3.

LeBron James didn’t play because of an injury, but that shouldn’t excuse the reality that L.A. is not looking too strong early, especially against the Thunder.

Let’s look at three overreactions from the game:

Frank Vogel is not the right coach

Frank Vogel has accomplished a great deal in his tenure with the Lakers, including a championship in 2019-20 and the No. 1-ranked defense in 2020-21. But these losses and close wins early in the year against lower-level competition should create serious questions for his ability to lead the team to a title this year.

Again, there’s no discrediting what he’s achieved, but these habits are becoming patterns. If the Lakers sustain this play, especially without LeBron in the lineup, L.A. will not be good enough to compete in the Western Conference. That was evident in the first two losses to the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns, though only time will tell if things improve.

Rob Pelinka pursued the wrong team-building approach

Vogel would not have led L.A. to a great defense last season if not for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso and Kyle Kuzma, but all three are on new teams. Even Wesley Matthews and Marc Gasol played important roles.

But Rob Pelinka, the general manager, went after offensive-minded players instead, and that’s taken a toll on the defense. Carmelo Anthony has been worth it, but players such as Malik Monk are struggling to find their footing.

The Lakers will lose without LeBron James

Los Angeles acquired Russell Westbrook for situations like now when James isn’t healthy. But the Lakers have lost two games to the Thunder without the star forward and narrowly escaped with a win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Considering how the games against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets went with James playing, those results could’ve easily been losses had James not played.

The Lakers have a three-game stretch coming against the Portland Trail Blazers, Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat, so things could get interesting in the standings.

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