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Frank Vogel and the Lakers are confident they can finish the season on high note

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook shoots as Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale defends.
Lakers guard Russell Westbrook drives to the basket as Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale defends during the second half Wednesday at Crypto.com Arena.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
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Frank Vogel knows all the relevant numbers for his team in the Western Conference. The coach is fully aware of the position the Lakers are in and how challenging the rest of the season will be.

The stakes are high and the Lakers have 24 regular-season games left to determine their fate.

They are 27-31 in the West and hold the ninth seed, which puts them in the NBA’s play-in tournament.

Knowing what position his team is in, Vogel began to rattle off the important numbers after practice Thursday.

  • The Lakers are six games behind the Denver Nuggets for the sixth spot, the last automatic berth for the playoffs.
  • The Lakers are 2 1/2 games ahead of the 10th-seeded Trail Blazers, who hold the last play-in spot.

Vogel said the Lakers have a goal they’d like to reach.

“We know the goal would be to get to the top six,” he said. “We know that’s a long shot but still within reach if we come out strong. And if we don’t, if we’re not able to get that, then getting into that first play-In game. The first play-in game is double elimination. The 9-10 game is single elimination. Every game is going to matter. We want to move up as much as we can in the standings. But more importantly than all of that, we want to play our best basketball down the stretch and peak going into those playoff series or games.”

If the Lakers want to win another championship and avoid years of mediocrity, they must trade LeBron James.

Feb. 24, 2022

The Lakers would currently meet the Trail Blazers in the first play-in game and would have to win that to keep playing. The loser of the Timberwolves and Clippers play-in game would meet the winner of the Lakers and Trail Blazers. The winner of that game would become the eighth seed in the playoffs.

The Lakers are in position to help themselves.

They play the Clippers twice (a Lakers home game Friday at Crypo.com Arena) and March 3 (a Clippers home game).

The Lakers play Denver twice, at home on April 3 and on the road on April 10.

The Lakers also meet the Timberwolves in Minnesota on March 16.

“So, those teams that are in front of us, those games will carry extra importance,” Vogel said.

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Lakers forward LeBron James dunks as Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert and forward Royce O'Neale defend.
Lakers forward LeBron James dunks as Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, center, and forward Royce O’Neale, right, defend during the second half of on Feb. 16 at Crypto.com Arena.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Lakers had another spirited practice Thursday that LeBron James didn’t attend because he was given the day off after participating in the All-Star game last weekend in Cleveland.

The Lakers also won’t have Anthony Davis (right mid-foot sprain) for at least the next three weeks.

But still, after a win over the Utah Jazz before the all-star break, the Lakers are feeling better about themselves.

“We’re in position to be in, whatever, the play-in game or whatever that may be,” Russell Westbrook said. “Our job now is to make sure we take it one day at a time and that’s it. Regardless of what position we’re in, we got to beat whoever to get where we need to get to. So, it don’t matter when you play them. If we play them early, cool. If we play them later, that’s cool, too. So, to me it doesn’t really matter. I’m just making sure that our minds are in the right place, and we got our energy and effort moving in the right direction.”

The Lakers are in ninth place in the Western Conference and have work to do to avoid the NBA’s play-in tournament.

Feb. 23, 2022

Injury update

The Lakers list James (left knee soreness) as questionable, Carmelo Anthony (right hamstring strain) as probable and Avery Bradley (right knee effusion) as out.

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When: 7 p.m. Friday.

On Air. TV — Spectrum SportsNet, Bally Sports, ESPN; 710, 1330, 570.

UPDATE: The Lakers have lost to the Clippers five consecutive times, last winning on July 30, 2020, in the bubble in Orlando, Fla. The Lakers are 10th in the NBA in scoring (110.9), the Clippers 23rd (106.9). The Lakers are ninth in the league in field-goal percentage (46.6%) and the Clippers 20th (45.5%). The Lakers are 18th in the league in three-point shooting (34.9%), while the Clippers are fourth (36.3%). The Lakers are 26th in the league in points allowed (112.4), while the Clippers are 11 (107.7).

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