The Los Angeles Lakers’ defense failed them in their third and final regular-season meeting with the San Antonio Spurs. Coming into the game, the Lakers defense, led by Anthony Davis ranked second in the league in points allowed per game and defensive rating.
But that went out the window as they allowed a season-high 118 points in a loss to the Spurs that snapped a four-game winning streak.
In particular, the Spurs were absolutely scorching from 3-point range as they knocked down 16 on the night at a 45.7% rate. Additionally, LaMarcus Aldridge, who missed the first two games against the Lakers, was unstoppable as he made 11-of-18 shots, including three 3-pointers to finish with a game-high 28 points.
“We didn’t play any defense. We didn’t play one lick of defense and let guys do whatever they wanted,” Davis said. They came into this game very comfortable, guys made shots, made plays, and we got off to a slow start.
“Even though we came back and got some stops, we never had that game under control and we never played defense from the opening tip to the final buzzer. That’s why we lost.”
Despite the impressive early-season defensive rankings, the Lakers have been hit-or-miss on that end. When the team has chosen to lock in, the results have been spectacular and there have been stretches where the Lakers have been outstanding.
But too often the team has been lazy with rotations and foul prone, and their turnover problems have done no favors either. When the Lakers can get out in transition they are unstoppable, but that is hard to do when the team is struggling to get stops.
“Some nights we bring it defensively and some nights we don’t,” Davis said. “We have spurts in the game where we’re really good defensively but for an entire 48 minutes on a consistent basis, we haven’t. We know there’s going to be mistakes, teams are going to make shots, you’re not going to be perfect the entire 48.
“But we’re not executing what we’re supposed to do and our communication has been terrible, I think, for the first nine games that we’ve played. We’ve got to be way better defensively if we want to have a chance to defend our title. There’s no excuse for that.
Davis feels responsibility to carry Lakers defense
If there’s a reason Davis is so hard on the Lakers defense, it is likely because he views himself as the spearhead of the team on that end of the court. Many believe Davis should have won NBA Defensive Player of the Year last season, and he understands that the defense will only be as good as he pushes it to be.
Oddly, the unit — at least statistically — has been better with Davis off the floor than him on it thus far in the 2020-21 season.
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