The Morning Column: December 13, 2021
There will come a point this season when the Lakers being a .500 team (or worse) will cost Frank Vogel his job but that time apparently is not now.
Good morning on a beautiful Monday and welcome to The Morning Column. Please subscribe if you haven’t done so. It will be delivered to you every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. To avoid the email ending up in your spam folder, please add email@example.com to your contacts. You can also email me there as well. I would love to hear from you.
1. After the Lakers’ 108-95 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies last Thursday to drop them to 13-13 on the season, I said that Frank Vogel was coaching for his job this week. The Lakers’ struggles this season don’t completely fall on Vogel’s shoulders but a coaching change is always the easiest and quickest fix for a struggling team and there will come a point this season when the Lakers being a .500 team (or worse) will cost him his job.
Vogel coaching the Lakers to a championship just 14 months ago has no doubt allowed him to stay on for this long (remember Mike Brown was shown the door after five games in 2012-13 and Del Harris was fired after 12 games in 1998-99) but his seat is becoming increasingly hotter with every loss.
While the Grizzlies are a good team, Memphis was without Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks and controlled the game after the first quarter. There was no way Vogel was going to be able to survive if the Lakers lost for the third time this season to the Oklahoma City Thunder to fall below .500. He also had to beat the 5-23 Orlando Magic, tied for the worst record in the league, at home. The Lakers won both games and are now 15-13 as they head on a three-game road trip against Dallas (13-13), Minnesota (12-15) and Chicago (17-10).
2. The Lakers will certainly look to make some moves to shake up their roster going into the Feb. 10 trade deadline but having LeBron James back and playing like, well, LeBron James is the biggest addition they can make. He has missed 12 games so far this season and is on a tear over his last eight games, including last night where he had 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against Orlando.
3. The Rams play the Arizona Cardinals tonight on Monday Night Football in a game the Rams are calling a playoff game. It’s a must-win game if the Rams have any hope of winning the NFC West this year although a win would still leave the Rams (8-4) a game behind the Cardinals (10-2) in the standings and in a ddeper hole in the divisional tiebreaker where the Cardinals are 4-0 and the Rams are 1-2. But tonight’s game is more than just about the division. The Rams’ path to SoFi Stadium for Super Bowl LVI likely won’t include a division title and home field advantage even if they win tonight but they need a win to regain the confidence they had when they were 7-1 to start the season and Super Bowl favorites after adding Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. to an already stacked team. Since then, they are 1-3 and lost three straight high-profile games to the Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers. Beating up on the 2-11 Jacksonville Jaguars last week didn’t do anything to reinstall that confidence but a win over the best team in football tonight would.
4. Is there a player in the NFL more fun to watch than Justin Herbert? Herbert’s 59-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Guyton was a thing of beauty and Herbert became the first player in NFL history with more 30 touchdowns in each of his first two seasons.
5. Before this season, USC quarterback Kedon Slovis was a Heisman Trophy candidate for a Top 15 team and had just signed with Klutch Sports. Fast forward a few months and Slovis was replaced as the starter by true freshman Jaxson Dart, USC finished 4-8 and Slovis officially entered the NCAA transfer portal on Monday.
6. I didn’t exactly go out on a limb when I said Brandon Boston Jr. would be the steal of the 2021 NBA Draft. The Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) product was a five-star recruit who went to Kentucky and left after one season and fell to the 51st pick. Could he have benefited from staying in college for another season? Sure, but did he also have the talent to be a lottery pick? No doubt. The Clippers got an absolute steal in Boston, who scored a career-high 27 points and hit five three-pointers in the Clippers’ 114-111 win over the Boston Celtics last Wednesday.
7. Here are some odds if you’re thinking about placing a wager today brought to you by Circa Sports.
8. Here’s the local pro sports schedule today brought to you by Yaamava’.
5:15 p.m. Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals – ESPN, ABC
7:30 p.m. Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Clippers – Bally Sports SoCal, NBA TV
9. Here are the “get in” prices for tickets locally on TickPick if you’re thinking about going to a pro sports game Tuesday.
Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Clippers – $8
10. On Friday’s The Arash Markazi Show, we talked about the Lakers losing to the Memphis Grizzlies and what they have to do to turn around their season.
Listen to The Arash Markazi Show Monday-Friday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on The Mightier 1090 in Southern California following The Rich Eisen Show and on 98.5 The Fan in Las Vegas following The Jim Rome Show. The Mightier 1090 has one of the strongest radio signals in North America and can be heard from “Baja to the Canadian Rockies” and 98.5 The Fan is the home of college football and the Los Angeles Chargers in Las Vegas. You can listen to The Mightier 1090 anywhere with your free TuneIn app or ask your smart speaker to “Play The Mightier 1090.” You can listen to 98.5 The Fan anywhere with your free Audacy app or ask your smart speaker to “Play The Fan Las Vegas.” You can also listen to the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher and the BLEAV Podcast Network.
And please click below to subscribe to The Morning Column at Substack. Please also consider supporting my colleagues at Substack (and former colleagues at ESPN and SI): Marc Stein, Henry Abbott, Chad Ford and Ethan Sherwood Strauss on the NBA, Molly Knight and Joe Posnanski on MLB, Ariel Helwani on MMA, Dan Rafael on boxing, Grant Wahl and Leander Schaerlaeckens on soccer and Chris Peters on the NHL.
That’s it for today. Talk to you on Wednesday.