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“We finally guarded!“ — Frank Vogel throws a subtle jab toward Russell Westbrook as the Lakers finally win

BasketballNetwork.net logo BasketballNetwork.net 4/9/2022 Nicole Ganglani

The Lakers' 19-point victory was their largest this season, and it happened without LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook and Frank Vogel © Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports © Provided by BasketballNetwork.net Russell Westbrook and Frank Vogel © Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

On a night where the Lakers dubbed their last home game as "Fan appreciation night," the purple and gold gave their fans something to cheer for after defeating the rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder (120-101).

The Lakers' 19-point victory on Friday was their largest this season, and it happened without LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, and Carmelo Anthony on the floor.

Oh, what a young group of players can do.

The Lakers played nine players in this meaningless game, and eight scored double figures. Six of those players in double-digits were Wenyen Gabriel, Austin Reaves, Talen Horton-Tucker, Malik Monk, and Mason Jones — the youngest players on the team.

The collective youthful energy was evident on Friday, and it may have just been a lesson learned for the Lakers organization.

"Team win. Eight guys in double figures. We finally guarded!” Head coach Frank Vogel said.

The team gambled on old veterans when they built their roster at the start of the season, and it was clear that they suffered tremendously because of this. It's also comical to think that the Lakers ended their season with a closing lineup that consisted of three waivers adds, an undrafted rookie, and THT.

"If we don't like how this feels then we have an opportunity to do something about it by working this summer and getting better. A lot of talk around us. We are very upset at this being our last home game," Johnson said.

This might have been a worthless game for the Lakers, but if there's a lesson learned here, investing in youth and developing players who are hungry to prove themselves should also be a priority next season.

Westbrook never respected Vogel 

Before Friday's game, the Lakers were once again the morning's topic (what's new?) as two articles (one from ESPN and the other from Los Angeles Times) exposed the team's locker room drama this year.

According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, Westbrook was apparently in a dark corner all year as he never received the organization's full support. Meanwhile, the Times reported that Westbrook never respected Vogel from the get-go, significantly affecting their relationship all season.

These two stories from the insiders are just a preview of what's to come for the Lakers. They have a six-month-long offseason ahead, and all the finger-pointing and exclusive stories aren't going to stop.

That's what happens when a team that was expected to make it all the way crashes and drastically underachieves this season. So instead of competing in the playoffs, the Lakers will be at home, embarrassed by all the stories the world will hear about them in the upcoming weeks.

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