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Three Things to Know: Lakers’ Vogel on hot seat, but can a coach fix them?

Michael Smith and Michael Holley discuss Kyrie Irving standing his ground and explaining why he is not vaccinated and how this could affect the Brooklyn Nets come playoff time.

Three Things is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks going that make the NBA great.

1) Lakers’ Vogel on hot seat, but can a coach fix them?

When a general manager — or owner — is considering firing a coach, the first question they should ask themselves is:

Who are we getting that’s better?

As reports swirled on Tuesday of Fran Vogel being on the hot seat with the Lakers — to the point he is being evaluated “game by game” — that question needs to be asked in Lakers front offices. This is a classic case where the coach is not the problem but he’s not the solution either. With the Lakers’ backed into a salary cap corner unable to make significant roster moves, the coach is the convenient scapegoat and the easiest thing to change.

Just remember the core Lakers’ issues come from decisions thrust on Vogel, not ones of his own doing.

Vogel certainly has not been perfect. His rotation choices — including being slow to come around to leaning on Anthony Davis/LeBron James at center — exacerbated the problems. His voice is not carrying a lot of weight in the locker room, according to reports.

But who are the Lakers getting that’s better? What coach are they bringing in that solves their problems?

The Lakers have former Knicks and Grizzlies coach David Fizdale on the bench next to Vogel and he is a LeBron favorite going back to Miami. However, is the career 71-134 coach who just went 1-5 while Vogel was out with COVID an upgrade? Is there another coach without a job right now who would be an instant upgrade? Bring back Mike D’Antoni? Hire Terry Stotts? Steve Clifford? Bring Kurt Rambis back out of the front office?

Can the Lakers even secure a top-flight coach? Remember, Tyronn Lue was the Lakers’ first offer for this job but he wanted no part of the only three-year contract and forcing Jason Kidd on him as an assistant, conditions Vogel accepted. A name coach will demand money, a level of security, and power within the organization. Would the Lakers offer that?

Right now, Rob Pelinka and Kurt Rambis have the power — to the point Rambis is attending coaching meetings in person, according to the Los Angeles Times. He is reportedly advocating for more big lineups with Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan at the five. Lineups with Jordan at center have a -10.4 net rating this season, with Howard it is +2.5. LeBron at center lineups are +2.3. All of those are with relatively small sample sizes because the Lakers have not had steady lineups all season, in large part due to injuries and COVID.

The Lakers may trade Talen Horton-Tucker and/or Kendrick Nunn at the deadline to improve the roster (the only players with mid-sized contracts they can trade), but they likely bring back a starter-level rotation player. Not a game changer. If the Lakers make a second-half run to the title — like the 2021 Tampa Bay Buccaneers that LeBron has used as a model before — the improvement will have to come from within.

The Lakers may not be convinced Vogel is the guy to coax that out of this roster. But the better question is, do they have anyone better lined up?

2) The Splash Brothers looked like themselves again

After a rough road trip, the Warriors needed a comfortable win and some good news upon returning home?

How about the Splash Brothers looking like their vintage selves again?

Klay Thompson scored a season-high 21 points and looked the best he has this season, Stephen Curry added 18, and the Warriors cruised to a win against the Pistons Tuesday.

Thompson shot 6-of-13 overall and 3-of-8 from 3, and looked more like himself — not just the shots falling, but in terms of moving more fluidly and looking comfortable.

Andrew Wiggins added 19 points. The Pistons young guard Cade Cunningham had a rough night, scoring 8 points on 3-of-10 shooting. Progress is never linear, and there will be rough patches.

3) Kemba Walker returns to Knicks, but Karl Anthony-Towns steals show

After missing 10 games with a sore knee, Kemba Walker was back with the Knicks and the starting lineup Tuesday night — and he looked sharp, with 19 points and draining 4-of-8 from 3. That includes a couple of late shots from beyond the arc that had the Knicks up late.

Then Karl-Anthony Towns drove on Julius Randle and scored over him with what proved to be the game-winner

Minnesota held on to win 112-110. It was another tough loss for the Knicks where their defense was not good enough when it mattered (although give Towns credit, he’s an elite scorer).

Highlight of the Night: Klay Thompson 3 to end first half lights up Chase Center

We can’t get enough Klay.

While this is an impressive three to end the half, the best part is the reaction on the bench and in Chase Center. Everyone is rooting for Klay.

Last night’s scores:

Minnesota 112, New York 110
Golden State 102, Detroit 86