The Los Angeles Lakers did their best to keep things close against the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day, but a slow start proved too much to overcome in a 126-115 loss. It’s the Lakers sixth loss in eight games.
Lakers star Anthony Davis, though, put together an incredible 40-point, 13-rebound performance in the loss, but felt that his and the team’s issues were on the other end of the floor.
The Lakers sat in the No. 8 spot in the league for defensive rating entering the Christmas Day battle with Boston. But allowing 126 points to the Eastern Conference leaders dropped them out of the top 10 to 11th. Given the Lakers have struggled in several phases on the offensive end this season, having miscues defensively is almost assuredly going to result in losses.
This was Davis’ major point of emphasis following the loss, saying that defensive mistakes and a change in identity could be contributing to struggles on that end of the floor.
“Buckle down defensively. Too many mistakes, especially tonight. A ton of mistakes in transition,” Davis said. “Obviously, we were cross-matched. So it’s a little tougher. Turnovers. We’ve been really good with the turnovers, but it’s the timing that kind of hurt us.
“We just got to buckle down defensively. And obviously the lineup change and we’re not really a switching team. But now we’re getting to it because of our lineup. We are able to do that. Sort of miscommunication is kind of there, but I think just buckling down defensively. Offense, I think we can be fine. But we got to do a better job on defense.”
The Lakers are also adjusting to a starting lineup shift that completely turns their opening unit into a defensive-minded one as opposed to offensive-minded by replacing D’Angelo Russell with Jarred Vanderbilt. But Davis is worried less about the lineup change and more about a consistent mentality.
“No, I mean, I think we just need to be elite defensively regardless,” Davis said. “It’s not because are the way teams are playing us offensively. I think just in general, the team that we want to be, we lay our hats on defense, and we’re not defending then we’re a totally different team, but when we defend and buckle down and get into people and rebounding and just being pesty and feisty on the ball diving on the floor, things like that.
“Activated on the defense end, then offensively we’ll be fine. I guess we get out in transition so we don’t have to worry about you know, coming down and getting sets or whatever. We just gonna rebound.”
Through 31 games, the Lakers are still trying to figure out exactly what type of team they are. Injuries and lineup changes have not helped nail down an identity, and losses like Christmas Day feel like a setback in getting to a final conclusion.
But for Davis, nothing has changed. The Lakers need to hang their hats on the defensive end.
Darvin Ham: it means a lot to coach Lakers vs. Celtics
Lakers head coach Darvin Ham spoke about what it means to be able to coach the Lakers against the Celtics on a primetime game like Christmas Day.
“It means a ton,” Ham said. “God is great. I thank my parents, I thank everyone that played a part in me being here – my wife, my children. Just growing up watching these games, being able to really enjoy them because I didn’t have a dog in the fight being from Michigan and a Pistons fan.
“But Magic Johnson was one of my favorite players growing up, still one of my favorite people to this day. Grew up on Magic, a home state guy. But to be a part of it is unbelievable. I’m very thankful, very humbled by it and it just puts that much more gasoline in my tank to try to accomplish the ultimate goal for this team.
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