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Lakers fall to 11th place in West, out of postseason picture, with big loss in Dallas

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook passes off between Dallas Mavericks defenders Josh Green and Jalen Brunson.
Lakers guard Russell Westbrook passes off between Mavericks defenders Josh Green (8) and Jalen Brunson during the first half in Dallas on Tuesday.
(LM Otero / Associated Press)
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The latest update on LeBron James and Anthony Davis was pretty simple:

“Yeah, they’re both out,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said before his shorthanded team faced the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.

And not long after, the Lakers got knocked out by the Mavericks, 128-110, and Luka Doncic’s 34 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. The loss also knocked the Lakers out of 10th place in the West, the last spot to make the postseason play-in tournament with seven games remaining.

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“Not good enough. In any way,” Vogel said about his team, which never led and trailed by as many as 37 points. “This is one of the most prolific offenses in the league. The Luka Doncic pick-and-roll is as tough to prepare for, is as tough of an action to slow down, as any in the league. And with a lot of guys out we had to come in and execute at a high level.

“And we executed very poorly to start the game and really that whole first half, with what our game plan was. And then as we tried to adjust to look at some Plan Bs and Plan Cs, we just didn’t execute well enough and play with enough toughness, IQ, intelligence, focus and fight in that half. So, not acceptable and just a poor performance across the board. Coaches, players, everybody.”

James was out with a sprained left ankle suffered Sunday night in New Orleans and Davis missed his 17th consecutive game with a right mid-foot sprain.

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Davis practiced Monday, which was encouraging for the Lakers, but he still was listed as doubtful for the game. James did his rehabilitation away from practice Monday and he also had been doubtful.

According to people not authorized to speak on the matter, Davis wants to play Friday against his old New Orleans Pelicans team in an important game for the Lakers’ postseason hopes, but he was a “little sore” after the practice and the Lakers might deem it wise to wait.

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The Lakers play at Utah on Thursday, against a team they have defeated twice, before they host the Pelicans at Crypto.com Arena. The Lakers (31-44) are one game behind the ninth-place Pelicans and trail San Antonio (31-44) based on a tiebreaker.

“The standings are the results,” Vogel said. “We have to keep our focus on the process and the work and the things that are going to lead to the next win.

“That’s the only place that our focus will be.”

It was left it up to starters Russell Westbrook, Malik Monk, Austin Reaves, Stanley Johnson and Dwight Howard and the rest of the group to contend with the playoff-bound Mavericks (47-29).

Monk had 28 points and Westbrook 25, but it was no contest from the start.

Lakers guard Malik Monk passes.
Lakers guard Malik Monk passes during the first quarter against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas on Tuesday.
(LM Otero / Associated Press)

Westbrook was asked what needs to change now that the Lakers find themselves out of the play-in tournament, especially since they have one of the toughest remaining schedules.

“Nothing, man,” Westbrook said. “Nothing.”

Why is that?

“’Cause it doesn’t. What does it change? We still got games to play,” Westbrook said. “Other teams still got games to play. We still gotta play teams that’s above us in the play-in. Don’t really change much.”

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After getting up from his seat, Westbrook had a question for reporters.

“What do you think should change?” he asked.

He was told winning would be at the top of the list.

“OK, that’s obvious,” he said. “What do you think should change?

“That’s fine. You got an answer to winning? You got an answer to winning?”

Westbrook was told that the reporters don’t have the answers to how the Lakers can win, but that he should because he’s out there competing.

“Exactly. I don’t have the answer. So why you ask me?” he said.

Because you’re on the court, Westbrook was told.

“I’m only one person. It’s a team game,” he said. “So, I don’t have an answer. You may have it.”

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