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Magic Johnson of Los Angeles Lakers says Luke Walton safe -- 'Not going to fire him'

ESPN.com | Updated: 2018-11-05 14:00:19

LOS ANGELES -- Magic Johnson said Luke Walton will remain the Los Angeles Lakers' coach barring something drastic happening this season.

"Yeah, we're not going to fire him," Johnson told ESPN after the Lakers fell behind by 41-10 in the first quarter before losing to Toronto 121-107 at home. "[The meeting last week with Walton] wasn't even a meeting about that. We just have to be better and that was it."

When asked if Johnson intends on keeping Walton as head coach barring something drastic taking place this season as he first told The Los Angeles Times earlier on Sunday, Johnson confirmed, "yeah."

Asked what drastic can be defined as, Johnson politely declined to go into detail.

"No, not going into that," Johnson said with a laugh. "He's our coach, we supporting him, and that's it.

Johnson's support for Walton comes two days after ESPN reported that the Lakers president of basketball operations chided Walton in a meeting following the Lakers' two road losses at San Antonio and Minnesota and their then 2-5 start.

Johnson said the meeting was not about Walton's future but rather about how the Lakers had been playing in their rocky start to the season.

"Yeah, it was," Johnson said when asked if the meeting was positive and necessary. "We're last in defense. We got to get better."

Johnson could not have been happy with what he saw in the first quarter on Sunday when the Lakers fell behind 41-10 and trailed 42-17 at the end of the quarter to Toronto, which was playing without Kawhi Leonard. Entering Sunday, the Lakers had never been outscored by more than 24 points in a first quarter in the shot-clock era (since 1954-55), according to data compiled by ESPN Stats & Info.

The Lakers made a late run but could not overcome the gap.

Johnson repeatedly said during the summer that patience was required with so many new pieces, especially if there was a slow start. Johnson cited James' slow starts when he first joined the Miami Heat and returned to Cleveland and said he told Walton not to worry if there was a turbulent start in Los Angeles.

The Lakers won two straight after Johnson's meeting with Walton but had to desperately hold on after nearly blowing big double-digit leads in the fourth quarter to Dallas at home and at Portland in the wins.

Following their first win against the Blazers in 17 attempts on Saturday, the Lakers opened their home game on Sunday night looking like a team that was drained the night before.

The Lakers face Minnesota at home next on Wednesday.

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