Charles Barkley defends Frank Vogel, rips Anthony Davis amid Lakers’ slow start: ‘You got to play better’



Frank Vogel has faced quite a bit of scrutiny amid the Lakers’ early-season struggles, but Charles Barkley doesn’t think he deserves it.

The Hall of Famer took time to address the criticism of Vogel and speculation about his job security before the Lakers-Celtics game on Tuesday night. Barkley backed the coach during “Inside the NBA” on TNT and ripped those looking for a scapegoat in Los Angeles’ 12-12 start to the season.

“For the first month of the season, y’all blamed everything on Russell Westbrook, for the Lakers putting all those old-ass geezers together,” Barkley said. “Now, I hear y’all going to fire Frank Vogel. Listen, Russ is learning, Frank Vogel is a terrific coach. Put all them old-ass geezers together and just trying to blame other people — it ain’t right and it ain’t cool.”

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That said, Barkley was willing to dish out some blame despite his defense of Vogel and the other veterans the Lakers signed to shore up their depth. Who did Barkley target?

“In my opinion, I blame Anthony Davis,” he said. “Anthony Davis, you know I like you as a person, but you ain’t doing what you’re supposed to. You’re 27 years old. You’re supposed to be in your prime. You’re supposed to be one of the five best players in the world, up there in Giannis, Kevin Durant, all those guys and you ain’t holding up your end of the bargain.”

Davis’ numbers are, at a glance, solid. He is averaging 24.1 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.3 steals per game for the Lakers this season. It marks his first season since coming to L.A. that he has averaged a double-double. He is also shooting 52.4 percent from the floor, good for the third-best mark of his career and best since the 2017-18 NBA season.

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However, Davis’ net rating of minus-3.2 ranks 196th of 290 NBA players who are averaging at least 15 minutes per game. Only three players on the Lakers have worse net ratings — DeAndre Jordan (minus-7.5), Kent Bazemore (minus-8) and Avery Bradley (minus-9.9).

So, Davis’ impact hasn’t been as strong as it was in seasons past. That’s why Barkley is calling upon him to step up and help the Lakers reach their ceiling.

“Listen, Anthony Davis, you got to play better,” Barkley said. “I said on this first night, if the Lakers were going to be any good, it was all going to be on you. It has nothing to do with Russell, it was nothing to do with LeBron and the rest of them old-ass geezers out there. But now y’all done crossed a line because I really like Frank Vogel. It ain’t his fault.”

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The Lakers took a step in the right direction by beating the Celtics 117-102 on Tuesday night to improve to 13-12. Davis had a strong outing, posting 17 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals in the rivalry game.

Still, one solid game won’t get Barkley off his back, especially because Barkley seems hell-bent on defending Vogel as criticism continues to trickle in.

“Now I hear y’all going to fire the coach? That’s total BS, man,” Barkley said at the conclusion of his rant. “Now I feel better.”


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