LeBron James has been hailed by Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel as "the most unique player in the history of the game" after his second-half performance at center on Friday.

James finished with 29 points, seven rebounds and five assists after playing exclusively at center in the second half of Friday's 116-105 win over the Orlando Magic.

The four-time MVP was moved into Dwight Howard's role after half-time with the Lakers immediately going on a decisive 20-2 to overcome their 62-54 deficit.

"He's the most unique player in the history of the game," Vogel told reporters about James.

"We won a championship with him playing point guard two years ago, he's been a ball-handling wing throughout his career and he's been playing center for us.

"It's pretty remarkable, and for him to be doing it at this stage of his career, it's even more remarkable."

Vogel also praised Russell Westbrook who was benched in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's 111-104 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

Westbrook, who joined the Lakers from the Washington Wizards in the off-season, has been the subject of much criticism this season.

The 33-year-old Lakers point guard had 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists against the Magic.

“He’s all-in on doing whatever is necessary to get the Lakers in position to win a championship, for sure," Vogel said.

Westbrook added: “I was upset about [being benched on Wednesday] and I was more upset that we didn’t win the game.

"I’ve been here doing my job since day one and doing everything asked of me. I want to continue to do that for the betterment of the team."

Vogel also added that there was no firm timeframe on All-Star forward Anthony Davis' return from a knee injury.

James has scored 25 or more points in 16 consecutive games, which have all coincided with Davis' stint on the sidelines.

Frank Vogel is under pressure at the Los Angeles Lakers, but LeBron James insists no blame can be directed at the coaching staff.

The Lakers' slump continued on Wednesday as a fourth-quarter charge from the Indiana Pacers saw them lose 111-104.

That defeat means the Lakers have now lost four of their last five games. Indeed, it has been reported that Vogel might well have lost his role as head coach had his team not snapped a three-match losing streak by beating the Utah Jazz on Monday.

But a loss to a Pacers team that is 13th in the Eastern Conference and had won just one of their previous 11 games means questions will surely be asked once again.

It was no surprise then that Vogel's future was the topic of conversation in James' post-game media briefing.

"Coaching staff has been great," James told reporters.

"They put us in a position to succeed, and it's up to us to handle the business, so there's always things that we all can do better, but there's no blame.

"I'm not in that business, of pointing fingers or pointing blame. It's not my lane. I'm not a negative person. So if you got something to ask me besides trying to s*** on somebody, I'll answer those. It seems like y'all are in s*** mode right now."

James led the Lakers with 30 points and 12 rebounds, the 10th of which brought up his 10,000th across his regular season career, but his double-double was not enough to stop Los Angeles slipping below .500 in the Western Conference.

 

Carmelo Anthony, who scored 14 points, insisted the players must step up.

"I mean, we got to do it," Anthony said. "It's up to us. Frank's not out there. It's up to us to go out there and execute and play basketball and win some games."

Vogel, meanwhile, acknowledged it was a damaging defeat.

"This is definitely a disappointing loss," Vogel said. "Indy is a team that's sub-.500, that on our home court, we feel like we should win. And you got to win the games you feel like you should win. So, a disappointing loss.

"I meet with our front office. We talk about the previous night's game. Every game. All year. It's been that way for three years. And it's not been different this week or of late.

"Everyone is working together to leave no stone unturned in terms of getting this thing going in the right direction. And we all have a great working relationship where we're trying to figure out things together. We won a championship this way, and I feel good about our process.

"In this business, and with this team, if you're not winning at a super high level, you're going to get this type of noise. I'm good at blocking that out. I feel good about the job that we're doing. I believe in what we can do this year."

Vogel made a big call to take off Russell Westbrook, with the Lakers star having struggled to cope with Indiana's Caris LeVert, who had 30 points.

"I played the guys that I thought were going to win the game," Vogel explained.

Westbrook has 833 points for the season, behind only James (952) in the Lakers' roster.

Russell Westbrook accepts Magic Johnson's damning assessment of the Los Angeles Lakers' form, but says the legendary figure does not know what is going on internally.

The Lakers slumped to a third defeat in a row with a heavy 133-96 loss at the hands of the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.

Frank Vogel's side, who were without injured Carmelo Anthony for a third straight game, now have a 21-22 record for the season and are seventh in the Western Conference.

The defeat to a Nikola Jokic-inspired Nuggets was the second biggest of LeBron James' 19-year career, and one fellow Lakers icon Johnson felt showed a lack of effort.

"After being blown out by the Nuggets, we as Lakers fans can accept being outplayed but we deserve more than a lack of effort and no sense of urgency," Johnson tweeted. 

"Owner Jeanie Buss, you deserve better."

Westbrook, who scored 19 points on 7-for-15 shooting, did not want to be drawn into a war of words with Johnson when asked for his reaction to the social media post.

"I do not have a reaction," he said. "Everybody is entitled, in this world, to their opinion – regardless of what that it is. 

"You can either take it and run with it or you can take it and put it in one ear and out the other or you cannot respond to it.

"Magic's entitled to his opinion. And he's not here every day. He's not around us every day. He's not aware of what's going on internally with us and trying to figure things out. 

"But I have no response to that. Like I said, everyone in this world is entitled to their opinion and that's that."

Reigning MVP Jokic recorded another triple-double as the Lakers slumped below .500 again in their defeat to the Nuggets.

Jokic finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists as Denver piled on 73 first-half points before restricting the Lakers to only 36 points in the second half.

And on the back of a humiliating loss, Westbrook concedes his side have to step up ahead of back-to-back home games with the Utah Jazz and the Indiana Pacers. 

"We just got to play hard," he said. "Sometimes, the schemes and how you play doesn't really matter. 

"You got to just play hard sometimes. Teams are playing harder than us, simple as that."

Dwight Howard, whose average of 5.4 points-per-game through 33 outings this season is the lowest of his career, echoed the thoughts of Westbrook.

"It's not too much I can really say about it. We've been saying it all year. I shouldn't have to keep saying. But, you know, he's right," Howard said.

"You can't stop believing that you're gonna win and just say, 'Ah, f**** it, let's give up.

"We know we've put ourselves in a pretty tough predicament, but all it takes is a couple games and some good energy and some positivity. We've just got to stay positive."

The Lakers' 37-point loss to Denver was their largest ever in this fixture and follows defeats to the Memphis Grizzlies and the Sacramento Kings in the past week.

"We've got to get back to the drawing board and get our defense right," head coach Vogel said. "We haven't performed well enough in the last two games on that side of the ball."

The Los Angeles Lakers have been dealt a major blow with eight-time All-Star Anthony Davis ruled out for at least four weeks with an MCL sprain.

Davis sustained the injury in Friday's 110-92 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves and underwent scans and evaluation on Saturday.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel had hoped the forward's injury was only minor but the franchise confirmed on Saturday he has suffered an MCL sprain and will miss four weeks minimum.

Davis had played 27 of the Lakers' 30 games this season, averaging 23.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.0 blocked shots per game.

The loss of Davis is a setback for the Lakers who are 14-16 and already without Avery Bradley, Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard, Malik Monk, Kendrick Nunn and Austin Reaves due to the NBA's health and safety protocols.

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis will undergo tests on Saturday to determine the extent of the injuries that forced him out of the defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The 28-year-old took ankle and knee blows in the 110-92 setback on Friday, forcing him out of the game and leaving question marks over whether a lay-off could follow.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said: "He did see the team doctor here. He's just going to have to be evaluated tomorrow [Saturday] with the MRI, and we'll know more at the time.

"Hopefully, it's something minor and he can get back soon, but we'll find out more tomorrow."

On the defeat, he added: "We have enough to win the game, and we didn't play well enough.

"I think their whole team was more physical. They definitely played a more physical brand of basketball today, and we've got to be better."

Davis is averaging 23.3 points plus 9.9 rebounds this season.

"You lose a player of AD's calibre, your team gets weakened," Vogel said. 

"We don't feel sorry for ourselves. You hope for the best for AD. You want him in there, and you hate to see any guys suffering any injuries, but we always feel like we have enough to win.

"So, we're not feeling sorry our ourselves or looking for excuses."

Davis managed just nine points in 20 minutes on court, while LeBron James scored a modest 18 points in 35:30 with five-of-13 shooting, adding 10 rebounds.

James is hopeful Davis will be soon back in action.

"I asked him how he's doing, and he said: 'I'll know more tomorrow', so that's all we know," James said.

"My concern is always for his health. You wish for the best."

James reflected on injuries and the COVID-19 crisis depleting the Lakers' ranks, with players coming in and out of isolation, and said the current circumstances felt "like a revolving door of what-ifs".

"Hopefully, we can get past it soon and can really show who we are as a team, what we are capable of and not having guys in and out so much," he added.

LeBron James came good on his resolve that the Los Angeles Lakers would not make the same mistakes again, as this time they finished off the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Lakers tossed away a 72-48 half-time lead when these teams tussled in October, and held a 50-36 cushion when they met again in early November, only to lose again.

On both prior occasions, James was absent. This time he was very much present, posting 13-of-20 shooting for 33 points in a 116-95 victory on Friday night.

With Anthony Davis (knee soreness) absent, James dazzled as he played a fourth consecutive game for the first time in what has been a stop-start season for the 36-year-old superstar.

In 15 games this season, James has scored 30 or more points in seven of them. More to the point, he has reached 30 in five of his last seven games.

Ankle and abdominal injuries have been a frustration for James this season, but he said after this latest showing: "I'm just getting healthier every day.

"My injury played a big part in me getting out of game shape, but also the dynamics of how I move and how I play left me kind of hampered at times. I've been able to see plays before they happen but not able to make them.

"But as I continue to get stronger and stronger and my injury continues to get closer and closer to 100 per cent, I'm able to go out there and do a lot of the things that I've been doing over my career that benefits our team. I'm happy the way I'm feeling as of late."

As a spectator, he had been as frustrated as anyone that the Lakers were unable to close out their previous games against Oklahoma this season.

"I was excited to play in this game just because of that reason," James said.

"I understood the leads that we built and me watching from the sidelines, seeing those leads evaporate and them celebrating on our floor last time they played us, and I couldn't do nothing but sit there and watch.

"They earned those wins, but I was looking forward to making an impact in this game and just trying to control the game how I know I can control the game on both sides of the floor, and I was lucky enough that my team-mates put some work in tonight and I just tried to lead them in the right direction."

The Lakers' win followed on from Thursday's 108-95 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, when James had a triple-double of 20 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists but wound up on the beaten team, his shooting not at its sharpest.

This time the Lakers logged a season-high 19 three-pointers, four of those from James with Avery Bradley netting six from behind the arc

Coach Frank Vogel saluted James' response, saying: "He was unbelievable tonight.

"I shouldn't say it surprises me, but it’s just incredible for him to play at such a high level. To perform the way he did tonight, not only just with his shot-making but his play-making and his will to take a tough loss last night and say, 'That’s not going to happen again'.

"The two losses we had against OKC where we built big leads and let them get back in it, he wasn't going to let that happen again tonight."

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James has defended coach Frank Vogel after an inconsistent start to the NBA season.

The Lakers, one of the pre-season favourites for the championship, are 12-12 after Friday's defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers and sit seventh in the Western Conference.

With a roster that boasts talent such as James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo, more was expected from the 2020 champions, with coach Vogel coming in for recent criticism.

"I think criticism comes with the job, you know?" James said after practice on Monday. "Frank is a strong-minded guy. He has a great coaching staff. And we as his players have to do a better job of going out and producing on the floor.

"We're a team and an organization that don't mind some adversity, that don't mind people saying things about us, obviously, because it comes with the territory."

Vogel has an overall record of 106-61 (.635) with the Lakers, the sixth-best winning percentage of any coach in their history with at least 100 games.

James was back in the Lakers line-up for the Clippers game after returning two negative COVID-19 tests, posting 23 points and 11 rebounds in the 119-115 loss.

The 36-year-old entered the NBA's health and safety protocols last week, sitting out the 117-92 win over the Sacramento Kings due to a positive coronavirus test, but cleared the league's COVID protocols after additional testing confirmed the four-time champion and MVP was not a positive case.

"We have a lot of guys on this team that have been bulletin-board material for quite a long time, so it don't quite bother us," James added. "Everything that we do stays in house when it comes to our preparation and how we prepare for our next opponent and how we prepare to get better.

"Frank doesn't care and we don't either about what people are saying."

LeBron James worked out the frustration of serving the first suspension of his NBA career in his return to the court Wednesday. 

James poured in a season-high 39 points and made a pair of key three-pointers in overtime as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers 124-116. 

James had to sit out LA's loss at the New York Knicks the night before after being suspended by the league for his part in an altercation with Isaiah Stewart of the Detroit Pistons on Sunday. 

In his return to the court, James hit several important shots while also spending much of the game playing center on defence as Anthony Davis sat out the contest with flu-like symptoms. 

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel piled on the superlatives in describing James' all-around performance. 

"There were several times we were down 10, and we kept fighting and obviously the big fella took us home," Vogel told reporters. 

"What LeBron did tonight was just a performance for the ages. I know these fans and how much they love their hoops here in Indianapolis, and he put on one hell of a show.

"I know he wanted to get this W. He really wanted to play in that Knicks game. Madison Square Garden, he looks forward to that every year and it was very disappointing for him to not be able to be in that game. He bounced back tonight."

It looked as if the Lakers would win in regulation when James hit a three-pointer for a 110-104 lead with 1:17 to play in the fourth quarter, but Indiana rookie Chris Duarte tied the game on a three of his own with 6.5 seconds to play. 

James missed a long three in the closing seconds of regulation but got the job done in overtime, his back-to-back threes breaking a tie and putting the Lakers on top for good. 

Along the way, James also asked game officials to eject two fans sitting courtside in Indianapolis. He did not go into detail about that incident after the game, saying only "when obscene gestures and language come into it, [it] can’t be tolerated." 

In his first comments to reporters since the suspension was handed down, James said hitting Stewart in the face Sunday was "definitely accidental" and that was why he apologised immediately. 

“I’m not that kind of player," James said. "I didn’t think it warranted a suspension.”

Frustrating as it was to watch powerless as the Lakers (10-10) fell to the Knicks, he said he believes the team is making progress overall. 

"I think [Tuesday] we played some good ball even in my absence, we just weren't able to come through on that one," he said. "Obviously second half of that Detroit game we played exceptional, especially in that fourth quarter, so we want to continue to build off of it. 

"We want to continue to work on habits and continue to play Laker basketball and if we do that close to 48 minutes we put ourselves in good position to win."

Anthony Davis defended Los Angeles Lakers team-mate LeBron James after his ejection in the wild win over the Detroit Pistons, insisting the NBA superstar is not a "dirty dog".

James was ejected for an elbow to Pistons center Isaiah Stewart's eye, which was deemed a flagrant 2 foul, with the incident setting off a wild brawl in the Lakers' rallying 121-116 victory.

Stewart, who was also tossed from the game, was left bloodied from his right eye and incensed, repeatedly attempting to charge at James, having to be restrained and escorted off the court by coaches and team-mates amid chaotic scenes.

James and Stewart had jostled for position for a rebound from Jerami Grant's free throw early in the third quarter, when the four-time MVP's left elbow struck the Pistons big man's eye.

"Everyone in the league knows LeBron's not a dirty guy," said Davis, led the Lakers' comeback with 30 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, five blocks and four steals. "As soon as he did it, he looked back at him and said 'my bad, I ain't try to do it'.

"I don't know what [Stewart] was trying to do. I know nobody on our team, one through to 15, was having it. We wanted to protect our brother.

"I've never in 10 years seen a player try to do that... It was uncalled for. You got a cut above your eye, accidental, it wasn't on purpose.

"We weren't going to allow him to keep charging our brother like that. I don’t know what he was trying to do. We just wanted to get the win for him."

The Lakers were trailing by 12 points at the time of the incident but went on to win behind Davis' big performance on the road.

Davis became the first Laker with a 30/10/5/3/5 game since Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal in 2001.

Russell Westbrook (26 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds) was important down the stretch too, with 15 points, five rebounds and six assists in the fourth quarter alone, as the Lakers dominated with a 37-17 final quarter.

Amid the chaos of the brawl, Westbrook received a technical foul which left him dumb-founded post-game, stating he was an easy target for the referees.

"I didn't know I had a tech… woah, that's interesting," Westbrook told reporters. "For being Russell, I guess? I don’t know why but whatever.

"They had to put it on somebody. I'm an easy person to put s*** on. Why not me?"

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel hailed his side's response to the incident, reeling in the Pistons' game-high 17-point lead to claim a win that helped the championship-chasing franchise improve to 9-9 for the season.

"To me, it's one of those things that can change the momentum of your season," Vogel said. "To see guys rally around a team-mate that just got ejected like that in a strange circumstance.

"We played with incredible guts, started the fourth quarter down by 15. That's the determination that this team is going to need. That's how hard we've got to play to get Ws. "That's a heck of a win for us."

Anthony Davis defended Los Angeles Lakers team-mate LeBron James after his ejection in the wild win over the Detroit Pistons, insisting the NBA superstar is not a "dirty dog".

James was ejected for an elbow to Pistons center Isaiah Stewart's eye, which was deemed a flagrant 2 foul, with the incident setting off a wild brawl in the Lakers' rallying 121-116 victory.

Stewart, who was also tossed from the game, was left bloodied from his right eye and incensed, repeatedly attempting to charge at James, having to be restrained and escorted off the court by coaches and team-mates amid chaotic scenes.

James and Stewart had jostled for position for a rebound from Jerami Grant's free throw early in the third quarter, when the four-time MVP's left elbow struck the Pistons big man's eye.

"Everyone in the league knows LeBron's not a dirty dog," said Davis, led the Lakers' comeback with 30 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, five blocks and four steals. "As soon as he did it, he looked back at him and said 'my bad, I ain't try to do it'.

"I don't know what [Stewart] was trying to do. I know nobody on our team, one through to 15, was having it. We wanted to protect our brother.

"I've never in 10 years seen a player try to do that... It was uncalled for. You got a cut above your eye, accidental, it wasn't on purpose.

"We weren't going to allow him to keep charging our brother like that. I don’t know what he was trying to do. We just wanted to get the win for him."

The Lakers were trailing by 12 points at the time of the incident but went on to win behind Davis' big performance on the road.

Davis became the first Laker with a 30/10/5/3/5 game since Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal in 2001.

Russell Westbrook (26 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds) was important down the stretch too, with 15 points, five rebounds and six assists in the fourth quarter alone, as the Lakers dominated with a 37-17 final quarter.

Amid the chaos of the brawl, Westbrook received a technical foul which left him dumb-founded post-game, stating he was an easy target for the referees.

"I didn't know I had a tech… woah, that's interesting," Westbrook told reporters. "For being Russell, I guess? I don’t know why but whatever.

"They had to put it on somebody. I'm an easy person to put s*** on. Why not me?"

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel hailed his side's response to the incident, reeling in the Pistons' game-high 17-point lead to claim a win that helped the championship-chasing franchise improve to 9-9 for the season.

"To me, it's one of those things that can change the momentum of your season," Vogel said. "To see guys rally around a team-mate that just got ejected like that in a strange circumstance.

"We played with incredible guts, started the fourth quarter down by 15. That's the determination that this team is going to need. That's how hard we've got to play to get Ws. "That's a heck of a win for us."

LeBron James says there is a sense of urgency that the Los Angeles Lakers need to play better now after slumping to their ninth defeat of the season on Friday.

James returned from an abdominal strain after eight games out but was unable to lift the Lakers who went down 130-108 to the Boston Celtics.

After 17 games in an 82-game season, the Lakers have an 8-9 record, having lost their past three games and seven of their past 10.

"We damn straight need to play better, no matter who's in the line-up," James said at a post-game news conference. "We have our system and we need to fast-track it and get better with it.

"It's never that we've got 65 games and we can figure it out. There's no level of panic but there should be some sense of urgency every time we hit the floor."

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said offensively his side needs to "get committed to playing as a team" while he labelled their rebounding (51-33) against the Celtics as "atrocious".

Russell Westbrook was among a host of new players added during the offseason at the Lakers and James said it was taking time for the side to develop cohesion.

The four-time NBA MVP also said patience was required having only just returned, along with starting forward Talen Horton-Tucker.

"As we continue to log more minutes, I continue to see where we're great at and not so good at," James said. "Things that we can improve on.

"Like I said, it's my first game in two and a half weeks. I believe it's Talen third or fourth game back. We're trying to figure out rotations and who to play when."

The Lakers led by eight points at quarter time and held the most slender advantage at the main break, before a 33-21 third quarter.

Vogel added: "We did not have a good third. We were stuck in mud. [But] it's about the whole game more than the third quarter.

"Our group has got to strike the balance of how we're going to play offensively. That's going to take some time. We have to get committed to playing as a team offensively.

"When we do, like we saw in the first quarter, it looks beautiful. You see the potential of what we can be."

James added that recovery from his first game back would be key to his short-term future as he rebuilds following his abdominal strain. The 36-year-old forward finished with 23 points and six rebounds on his return.

"Physically I felt okay. I know I can trust my body and play," he said. "I'm looking forward to seeing how I feel when I wake up. That's the tell-tale sign if I'm moving in the right direction with my injury."

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel lauded Anthony Davis for imposing "his will" as the stuttering NBA franchise returned to winning ways.

After their humbling at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, Davis led the Lakers to a 114-106 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.

Davis posted 27 of his game-high 34 points in the opening half, while collecting 15 rebounds and tallying six assists for the championship-chasing Lakers, who continue to be without superstar LeBron James.

Only once previously have the Lakers won the title after making a 7-6 start, improving to 57-25 in 2007-08 to take the top seed in the Western Conference.

Their early struggles prompted Davis to issue a warning regarding their "embarrassing" form following the 107-83 home loss to the Timberwolves.

Vogel hailed 2020 NBA champion Davis after helping the Lakers (8-6) outlast the Spurs (4-9).

"Anthony really imposes his will on this game," Vogel told reporters post-game in Los Angeles.

"I think he, probably more than anyone, was unhappy with how last game unfolded and he was intent to impose his will."

Davis added: "We're starting to get our guys back and we want to make a run. We want to go on a nice little winning streak and be the team that we know that we can be.

"But it starts with our defence. I feel like we had moments where we were like the old Lakers where we mess up and break down our coverages. But for the most part we looked really good."

Russell Westbrook added 14 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Lakers, while Talen Horton-Tucker contributed 17 points in his season debut.

"To come out in his first game and do what he did was unreal," Davis said of Horton-Tucker. "I'm impressed.

"His first game and to come in and do what he did to help us win was huge and a sign of his hard work. A lot of guys usually come back and are kind of rusty, but he came in like he had been playing with us this whole time."

LeBron James is close to a return from an abdominal injury, with Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel confirming he is now "day-to-day".

James was absent for the fifth straight game with injury as the Lakers went down 107-83 to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, leaving them with a 7-6 record.

Vogel confirmed pre-game the 36-year-old's injury will not rule him out for an "extended stretch".

"LeBron, his rehab is progressing nicely," Vogel told reporters. "He's back to doing on the court basketball activity.

"This does not seem like it's going to be an extended stretch. He's to be considered truly day-to-day."

The Lakers had won three straight games before going 2-3 without James in the side over the past 10 days, suffering defeats to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Timberwolves.

Prior to featuring in all three games of that short winning run, James had also missed consecutive games with ankle soreness. LA are 3-4 for the year without him.

James has been averaging 24.8 points, 7.0 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game this season, while shooting 46.7 per cent from the floor and 34.7 per cent from three-point range.

The Lakers were on the wrong end of a 40-12 third quarter against the Timberwolves, having been ahead at halftime.

Anthony Davis top scored with 22 points and eight rebounds, while Russell Westbrook had 20 points but five turnovers and an awful plus/minus of -32. Three of his turnovers came in the third quarter as he scored just three points in eight minutes.

"There's no better motivator than a bad loss," Vogel told reporters after the defeat. "I think a lot of our guys are angry. Our coaching staff are angry. We'll get back to work."

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel says it is understandable his players reacted badly to their loss away to the Portland Trail Blazers as they have high expectations of themselves.

Without the injured LeBron James and with Anthony Davis managing just seven minutes, the Lakers fell to a 105-90 defeat as their up-and-down early season form continued.

Russell Westbrook in particular struggled in Saturday's contest as he made just one of 13 shots for eight points, while turning the ball over on six occasions.

The defeat caps a poor week for the Lakers, having blown a 19-point lead to lose 107-104 to the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday.

Now 5-5 for the season and down in 10th in the Western Conference, Vogel is hopeful his side can grow stronger on the back of a tough run of results.

"We do have high expectations," Vogel said. "We're going to be a little edgy when we lose. I hope we're edgy when we lose. When we fail, failure is just fertiliser for growth. 

"That's the mindset that you have to have, and if you play the way we're playing and you win by one, maybe you're not as focused or locked in on correcting things or improving. We're just taking the silver lining in it."

Vogel confirmed Davis was replaced due to feeling unwell, but stressed the illness was not coronavirus related.

"He woke up today with a bit of a stomach bug," Vogel said. "He came back in and said his thumb felt pretty good, good enough to play, then he went and threw up in the back. 

"He still wanted to give it a go, but by the time tip-off came he had already thrown up four times. He wanted to see if getting out on the floor would change it, but wasn't able to go."

The Lakers will hope to have Davis back for the visit of the Charlotte Hornets on Monday as they attempt to get their NBA campaign back on track.

"We have a good process with our coaching staff, we have a good system in place, and the mindset is to stay positive, stay together and grow each day," Vogel said.

Frank Vogel says the Los Angeles Lakers will show "big-picture patience" while having a "small-picture sense of urgency" after they slumped to a 107-104 defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Lakers, missing LeBron James due to an abdominal strain, opened up a commanding 19-point lead in the second quarter at Staples Center on Thursday.

Oklahoma roared back to end the Lakers' three-match winning run, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scoring 11 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter as the Thunder secured only their second victory of the season.

Head coach Vogel says the Lakers will not feel sorry for themselves with the likes of James absent and will learn from their defeat to Oklahoma.

"We don't worry about stuff we can't control, we all want to win every game badly," said Vogel. "We want it to be perfect right now.

"We have big-picture patience but small-picture sense of urgency to get this right, right away and to win these games in the short term. We fell short tonight, it's disappointing but we'll get to work tomorrow and get better from it."

 

Vogel warned his players they must be consistent throughout matches after a strong first half was in vain.

"It's a long game, they are going to keep playing. Early leads don't really mean anything in the modern NBA," he added.

"You got to keep playing, we learned our lesson last week, but they made their run in the second quarter and it's a 48-minute game, you've got to play quarters."

Anthony Davis scored a game-high 29 points, claimed 18 rebounds and provided five assists as the Lakers slipped to 5-4.

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