After being hired as Mike D’Antoni’s successor a few months ago, new head coach Byron Scott was adamant about changing the culture of the Los Angeles Lakers with an emphasis on defense and conditioning. So far, the message has been received and put into action with all his players buying in, including Kobe Bryant.
Following the win over the Denver Nuggets on Monday in the preseason opener, it was clear that Scott has started to turn the team around. Although it wasn’t a perfect performance by any means, Scott’s presence has set the tone in Los Angeles which could prove to be a game-changer for the Lakers.
Heading into the team’s second preseason game, Scott continues to stress the importance of getting better defensively, via Eric Pincus of the L.A. Times:
“[We need to be] better on the defensive end. That’s the whole emphasis for this whole preseason, is just each game get better on that end of the floor, not make as many mistakes, do a better job of covering pick and roll,” Scott said after practice on Wednesday. “It’s just the little things that we need to continue to clean up.”
Obviously, it’ll take some time for Scott’s defensive philosophy to completely sink in. The Lakers were definitely a much improved team on that end of the floor against the Nuggets, especially when it came to transition defense which was a major problem last season.
On Thursday night, the Lakers will face a tough opponent in the form of the Golden State Warriors. Kobe and company will match up against a team filled with talented young players from top to bottom starting with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala.
The Warriors can get out and run with the best of them while lighting up the scoreboards on a nightly basis. Scott’s defense will be put to the test in his coaching debut at the Staples Center potentially showing how much more work needs to be done to improve moving forward.[divide]
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