The Morning Column: January 21, 2022
The Lakers begin a six-game road trip tonight that will likely define their season.
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1. The Lakers begin a six-game road trip tonight in Orlando that will likely define their season. It would be fair if you think this disappointing season has already been defined.
After all, the Lakers are 22-23 after 45 games and have failed to show signs of a team capable of going on a run that will magically turn their season around and make them championship contenders.
Sure, Anthony Davis will return at some point and maybe the Lakers can make a minor move or two before the trade deadline but we’ve seen the Lakers play with Davis for 27 games this season and make various lineup changes and additions and they looked just as lost as they do now.
It’s hard to imagine the Lakers not firing Frank Vogel at some point even though this mess isn’t his fault. He coached the Lakers to a championship just 15 months ago and watched the front office take a sledgehammer to that championship roster. They traded away key role players for Russell Westbrook, who Vogel was forced to bench in the final four minutes of an embarrassing loss to the Indiana Pacers. Thanks to health and safety protocols, the Lakers have already seen what life looks like with Vogel gone and David Fizdale as the head coach and it looks just as ugly as it does now.
What will the Lakers look like when they come back home next month? Will Vogel still be the coach? Will Westbrook be happy with his role on the team? Will the Lakers be able to make any moves to improve this mismatched roster? The answers to those questions will end up defining what has already been one of the most disappointing seasons in Lakers’ history.
2. The Lakers, Clippers and Kings are currently on their long, annual Grammy road trips. This is usually the time when the Staples Center (now Crypto.com Arena) is transformed into the home of the Grammy Awards. Unfortunately, there is no need for their extended road trip this year as the Grammys were postponed because of the Omicron variant and moved to Las Vegas in April. It’s too late to change the schedule now but while the Lakers, Clippers and Kings spend two weeks on the road to accommodate an award show that won’t happen, their home will be empty.
3. The Rams and San Francisco 49ers are underdogs in their divisional round playoff games this weekend with the 49ers currently six-point underdogs against the Green Bay Packers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers favored by three points against the Rams. If the Rams and 49ers both win their games, however, the NFC Championship Game will take place Sunday, Jan. 30 at 3:30 p.m. at SoFi Stadium. The cheapest ticket for that game, according to ticket brokers, would be over $400. While the game would technically be a Rams home game, ticket brokers think it would effectively be another 49ers home game. “It would be another sea of red,” said one broker. “The Rams have fans, don’t get me wrong, but they don’t have diehard fans that are willing to drop $500 for nosebleeds seats like the 49ers. I think it would be worse than it was for that last Rams home game and that was bad. It felt like it was at Levi’s Stadium.”
4. UFC 270 will take place Saturday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim with UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou taking on interim champion Ciryl Gane in the main event. It will be one of the quicker turnarounds in terms of setting up the Octagon as the Anaheim Ducks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night at Honda Center. The hockey game the night before the big UFC pay-per-view caused UFC to hold the ceremonial weigh-in on Friday, which normally happens at the arena, at the Anaheim Convention Center.
5. Las Vegas took a big step towards adding another major professional sports team on Thursday night when Aston Villa co-owners Wes Edens and Naseef Sawiris entered into an exclusive negotiating with Major League Soccer to bring an expansion team in Vegas. Edens, who also owns the Milwaukee Bucks, has previously said he would like Las Vegas’ expansion MLS team to start play after 2023. “As one of the world’s premier sports and entertainment markets with a fast-growing and diverse community, Las Vegas is the ideal home for an MLS expansion team,” Edens and Sawiris said in a statement.
6. Today’s tweet of the day brought to you by Ike’s Sandwiches.
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’.
4:00 p.m. Los Angeles Lakers at Orlando Magic – Spectrum SportsNet
4:00 p.m. LA Clippers at Philadelphia 76ers – Bally Sports SoCal
7:00 p.m. Tampa Bay Lightning at Anaheim Ducks – Bally Sports West
9. Here are the “get in” prices for tickets locally on TickPick if you’re thinking about going to a pro sports game today.
Tampa Bay Lightning at Anaheim Ducks – $28
10. On Thursday’s The Arash Markazi Show, we talked about the Lakers imploding against the Indiana Pacers and Frank Vogel’s seat getting hotter as the Lakers embark on a six-game road trip.
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That’s it for today. Talk to you on Monday.