Los Angeles

Latest Lakers Loss Not ‘Drastic' Enough For Luke Walton to Lose his Job

Magic Johnson gave Lakers head coach Luke Walton a vote of confidence before their blowout loss to the Toronto Raptors.

Was this "drastic" enough?

Just days after Los Angeles Lakers President of Basketball Operations, Magic Johnson, chastised his head coach Luke Walton in a private meeting, he changed course on Sunday telling three writers from the L.A. Times that Walton would "finish the season, unless something drastic happens."

Less than 30 minutes after the words came out of Magic's mouth, the Lakers got ran out of the gym by the Raptors in a historically bad first quarter the likes of which Los Angeles had never seen before.

The Raptors outscored the Lakers, 42-17, in the first frame, the worst margin of deficit in franchise history, dating back to the shot-clock-era, which began in the 1954-55 season.

Entering the game, the Lakers had never trailed by 20 or more points at any point during the season, let alone after the first 12 minutes of the game.

"That's a good team, and boy were they ready," said Walton of the Raptors hot start. "I don't know if we were tired from our game last night or what. They jumped all over us. They got in a rhythm and it made it tough to stop after that."

The 14-point loss was the worst defeat of the season for the new-look Lakers, but it's probably not enough for Magic to hand Walton a pink slip.

After snapping a 16-game losing streak to the Portland Trail Blazers in Rip City on Saturday night, the Lakers arrived back in Los Angeles in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, the Raptors arrived on Friday night after scorching the Suns in Phoenix. They practiced on Saturday, but were ready, rested, and chomping at the bit to attack the lifeless Lakers as soon as the ball was thrown into the air.

"In the first quarter we came out sluggish, just like a back-to-back," said LeBron James after the loss. "We got in late and they put it on us. Second, third and fourth, we played Lakers basketball."

The Lakers outscored the Raptors in each of the next three quarters, but the uphill climb was too much to overcome after the lopsided first frame.

After the game, Walton said his team would not use the tired legs from the night before as an excuse, but that's precisely the excuse that will keep him in his current position for the time being.

Magic's pregame words to the press were not necessarily a ringing endorsement of Walton moving forward, and his tepid vote of confidence that he'll last the season should be quelled.

Johnson should not be making proclamations as to Luke's job either positively or negatively. Simply put, he should state that Luke is the coach and that he supports him up until the day he isn't. Saying that Luke's job is safe barring something unforeseen is only going to throw fuel on the fire, and Johnson knows that.

Los Angeles Lakers players LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram, react after they were run off the court by the Toronto Raptors, 121-107, on Sunday, November 4, 2018 at Staples Center.

During the game, when the Lakers got off to the sluggish start in the first quarter, fans began to boo and groan as the Lake Show went lethargic on offense compared to the Raptors who were getting everything and anything they wanted on the court.

At one point, fans began to directly point the finger at Walton, yelling, "Come on, Luke! What are you doing?" with some fans even encouraging Johnson to fire Walton at halftime.

ESPN radio host and famous orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Robert Klapper, who is frequently a participant in the Lakers pregame show, actually called for former Cavaliers coach and LeBron favorite, Tyronn Lue, to takeover in a since deleted tweet. 

However, the tweet began a thread of comments from fans on Twitter debating who would be the best coach to replace Walton.

Some voiced their support for Lue, a former Laker, who knows how to coach LeBron as well as the ins and outs of the Lakers organization and championship culture. 

Others wanted Hall of Famer Jason Kidd, who was fired by the Milwaukee Bucks last season, with current ABC broadcasters Marc Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy getting votes as well.

For now, it seems like Walton's job is safe and this loss can be chalked up to a sluggish start after the second night of a back-to-back. The 38-year-old will now have two full days to prepare for Jimmy Butler and the Timberwolves on Wednesday, a team that just beat them in Minnesota last week.

Another lopsided loss and we might reach the realm of "drastic" for Walton and Johnson.

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