LOS ANGELES — So many questions surround the Lakers right now.
How is coach Frank Vogel’s job security? Will any players be acquired before the trade deadline in three weeks? When will Anthony Davis return?
There’s one thing that makes the questions dissipate — winning — but the Lakers couldn’t pull that off Wednesday against one of the NBA’s worst teams.
Caris LeVert had 30 points and almost outscored the Lakers by himself in the fourth quarter as the hapless Indiana Pacers beat the Lakers, 111-104, at Crypto.com Arena.
LeVert scored 22 points in the fourth quarter, making nine of 10 shots. The Lakers as a team had 24 in the quarter and lost any momentum they gained after beating Utah two days earlier.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel was reportedly on shaky ground after the Lakers’ 37-point loss to Denver last week. A story in The Athletic on Monday proclaimed his job was in serious jeopardy.
Of the 14 questions Vogel faced from reporters before Wednesday’s game, seven were about his job status. Vogel said he didn’t feel like he was “under siege” midway through his third season with the team.
“It comes with the territory, comes with being the Lakers coach,” he said. “We have high expectations. This fan-base really cares. It's a big market and I wouldn't want it any other way, to be honest with you. I want people to care, I want people to want the best and to command excellence out of our group.”
He said he continued to work in harmony with the Lakers’ front office, calling it “healthy” and a “great relationship.”
“Everyone is working together to leave no stone unturned in terms of getting this thing going in the right direction,” Vogel said.
After the game, there were more questions about another Lakers collapse against a subpar team.
The Pacers were 3-17 in road games before Wednesday’s win. They hadn’t won on the road since Nov. 22. They hadn’t won against the Lakers in Los Angeles since 2015.
All that changed Wednesday even though the Pacers (16-29) are in the midst of a lost season, sitting 13th in the Eastern Conference.
LeBron James had 30 points and 12 rebounds. Then he defended Vogel and his assistant coaches.
“Coaching staff has been great. They put us in position to succeed and it’s up to us to handle the business,” James said, declining to specifically address Vogel’s job status.
“If you’ve got something to ask me besides trying to [expletive] on somebody, I’ll answer those [questions],” he said.
Russell Westbrook did not play down the stretch, sitting out the final 3:52 of the fourth quarter. He missed 12 of 17 shots and finished with 14 points and three assists.
Vogel said he was simply going with the players he thought would help win the game.
Westbrook did not speak to reporters afterward, though James suggested he was bothered by not playing in the final minutes.
“Have you followed Russ throughout his career? Have you followed Russ throughout this season? Would you think it would bother Russ not being in the game?” James rhetorically responded to reporters when asked if Westbrook was upset.
The Lakers (22-23) led by 15 in the second quarter but suffered another bizarre defeat to a subpar team. They’ve also lost twice to Oklahoma City and Sacramento this season.
“We are who we are,” James said. “We are a sub-.500 team as it stands today and we have to play better.”
The Lakers now begin a season-long six-game trip that takes them through several East cities. Four games are against teams that would make playoffs right now — Miami, Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Charlotte.