NBA

Injury-hit Lakers should 'have what it takes' without LeBron and Davis, insists Vogel

By Sports Desk April 05, 2021

Frank Vogel offered his injury-hit Los Angeles Lakers "no excuses" as they were blown out by the Los Angeles Clippers without LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

James is out with a high ankle sprain, while a calf issue continues to keep Davis sidelined.

With new signing Andre Drummond then also ruled out due to a toe injury on his Lakers debut, Vogel was short-handed heading into Sunday's meeting with the Clippers.

But the title-winning head coach still was not impressed by what he saw in a 104-86 loss.

Montrezl Harrell, a former Clipper, led the Lakers in scoring with 19 points, but only fellow center Marc Gasol, who played fewer than 18 minutes, reached double-figures among the starting five.

The reigning NBA champions shot a disappointing 40 per cent from the field, their joint-second worst mark of the season.

Vogel said the Lakers would have to "improve with our offensive execution" and did not accept the injuries to James and Davis as mitigating factors.

"There's no excuses here," he added. "The guys that are playing have what it takes to get the job done, it's that simple."

The team's 86 points were a season low, yet it was also the fifth time in eight games – going back to the meeting with the Atlanta Hawks in which James went down – they have failed to reach 100.

Forward Kyle Kuzma, who had six points on awful two-for-10 shooting, said: "Defensively, we'll be all right. We'll compete, challenge most opponents.

"But offensively, we've got to find ways to play together and put points on the board. You can't win games scoring in the 80s and 90s."

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    Thomas Tuchel has backed Conor Gallagher and Callum Hudson-Odoi to fight their way into first-team contention at Chelsea. 

    However, the Blues boss was philosophical when asked whether either England international could leave in the transfer window, adding: "Nobody is for sale, and everybody is for sale."

    Gallagher appeared as a late substitute in Chelsea's opening-day Premier League win over Everton last week, while Hudson-Odoi was absent from the Blues' squad at Goodison Park.

    Both players have been linked with moves away due to the competition for places at Stamford Bridge, with Hudson-Odoi a reported target for Borussia Dortmund and Gallagher widely admired after racking up eight Premier League goals and three assists on loan at Crystal Palace last term.

    While Tuchel recognises N'Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic represent stern competition for Gallagher, he wants to see him realise his undoubted promise at Chelsea.

    "Conor fights in central midfield," Tuchel said ahead of Sunday's Premier League clash with Tottenham. "To be honest, it is a very tough fight for him because, at the moment, it seems we only have two places in central midfield. 

    "Given the amount of players we have for central midfield, it isn't ideal, I agree. But we have to do what's best for the squad, not just for each individual player.

    "But at the moment, he is absolutely fine. I am a huge fan of Conor. He is a fantastic guy, and this is what we already knew, in the first weeks of training, he has shown how much of a step he has made through having so much playing time.

    "It is a very, very normal situation and his development is that at the moment, after some fantastic training sessions in the beginning, there is a little dip in his form and freshness. 

    "On top of that, there's a huge competition with N'Golo, Jorgi and Kova, who are used to playing with each other. 

    "This is also life in a big club like Chelsea, so everything is in its right place. We are happy with him. He keeps on fighting, and this is what he does. I think he has everything to become very important in the next years at Chelsea."

    Hudson-Odoi has been linked with a move to the Bundesliga on several occasions, having only started 32 Premier League games for Chelsea since his 2018 debut, but Tuchel is also keen to hold onto him.

    "Callum is the same. He had a long-term injury and long-term problems to overcome," Tuchel said. "I think he still has a way to go to live up to his potential. His potential is huge. 

    "I think having Raheem [Sterling] in can give him an extra boost to step up and see what's needed in these kinds of positions to reach the levels he can honestly reach. 

    "But at the moment, he is our player, and he needs to fight, fight, fight. I have nothing more to say."

    But with over two weeks remaining in the transfer window, Tuchel refused to rule out a change in the club's strategy.

    "In general, nobody is for sale,", Tuchel added. "Nobody is for sale, and everybody is for sale. 

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  • Premier League data dive: Man Utd hit 30-year low as outstanding Jesus downs Foxes Premier League data dive: Man Utd hit 30-year low as outstanding Jesus downs Foxes

    The second Saturday of the new Premier League campaign did not disappoint, serving up a thrilling comeback, a spectacular home debut and a familiar sinking feeling for Manchester United supporters.

    If last week's 2-1 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion represented a baptism of fire for Erik ten Hag, United's trip to Brentford provided further despair as the dismal Red Devils hit a 30-year low.

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    Where do you start with this one? New United boss Ten Hag was left in no doubt regarding the side's problems when a Pascal Gross double sent them crashing to an opening-day defeat last week.

    But not even the most pessimistic United follower could have predicted their collapse in west London, as Ten Hag became the first Red Devils manager to lose his first two games at the helm since John Chapman in November 1921.

    Things got off to a dreadful start when David de Gea let Josh Dasilva's shot squirm into the net after 10 minutes; since the start of the 2018-19 season, only Jordan Pickford (11) has made more errors leading to Premier League goals than the Spaniard.

    Mathias Jensen, Ben Mee and Bryan Mbeumo joined Dasilva on the scoresheet by the 35th minute as Brentford scored with their first four shots on target, while Cristiano Ronaldo cut a dejected figure on his return to the United team.

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    And while the table has not quite taken shape two games in, United ended the day bottom of the Premier League for the first time since August 21, 1992.

    Arsenal 4-2 Leicester City: Miraculous home debut for Jesus

    Another side with Champions League ambitions has made a far brighter start to the Premier League season, as Mikel Arteta's Arsenal made it two consecutive wins with an entertaining victory over Leicester.

    Former Manchester City forward Jesus was hailed as a coup for the Gunners when he arrived in the off-season, and he enjoyed a home debut to remember by scoring two goals and adding two assists.

    In doing so, the Brazilian became the first player to score multiple goals on his home Premier League bow for Arsenal, as well as the first Gunners player to double up for goals and assists in a single league game since Theo Walcott against Newcastle in December 2012 (three goals, two assists).

    Before Jesus assisted compatriot Gabriel Martinelli for Arsenal's fourth goal, he became the 12th different Brazilian to score in the Premier League for Arsenal – the most of any side in the competition's history.

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    A Jefferson Lerma own goal came after strikes from Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden, as the Cherries made it 17 league matches without a win against City in their history – the most one side has faced another without a victory in English league history.

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    Erik ten Hag is adamant Manchester United's humiliating 4-0 defeat to Brentford on Saturday was caused by individual mistakes rather than it being a consequence of flawed tactical decisions.

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    Quizzed on Eriksen twice being caught on the ball in deep positions, Ten Hag said: "Yes, but he didn't have to receive the ball there, because we give options and the players have to choose but we said play long, invite them and play long.

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    "It's not possible the opponent is more hungry than you are. I saw in the second-half a comeback but you have to start well and it's not good.

    "When the results are like this, I can imagine that feeling, it's also no good. That we show that, clear, so we have to change that. We need more hunger on the pitch and show that as an individual and as a team."

    Up next for Ten Hag and United is the visit of Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool to Old Trafford a week on Monday.

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