Darvin Ham Believes Lakers’ Defensive Effort Vs. Thunder Was Best Of Season
Darvin Ham, Lakers, Thunder
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers got themselves back in the win column with a dominant victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team whom the Lakers have had their number all season long. And on this night, the biggest reason for the victory for Darvin Ham’s team was their defense.

The Thunder average 121 points per game and have the third-best offensive rating in the NBA. But the Lakers held them to just 104 points and 39.4% shooting and they especially locked down in the first half as they held Oklahoma City to a mere 43 points on 30.6% shooting.

Afterwards, Ham praised the Lakers’ defensive effort, especially early on.

“I told them at halftime that was the best defensive half I’ve seen all season,” Ham said after the win. “Just the way we just fought to keep the ball in front of us, our shifts and activity behind the initial defender, help at the rim, rebounding the ball well.

“Turnovers kind of bit us early and often but we were able to still get some good looks, play downhill and guys were making shots. But our defense, kudos to our guys for really stepping up and defending really well.”

Anthony Davis is always the cornerstone of the Lakers’ defense, but Ham praised the entire team’s efforts in containing the Thunder’s potent offense.

“I think it was contagious,” Ham added. “AR, AD back there talking, AR with that tough matchup on Shai, Bron, everybody is closing out, DLo, everybody. Rui, he got in a little early foul trouble and picked up a few early.

“But all in all, guys coming off the bench, Cam, Taurean, all those guys, Jaxson, Spencer, we had to run multiple bodies at Shai. He requires that type of attention with just the elite level that he plays at. All our guys were like-minded in terms of having the mentality and individual pride on the ball.”

It took a full team effort to shut down the Thunder and that is exactly what Ham got from the Lakers on this night and now he wants his team to build on this performance moving forward. “And our compete, individual pride to contain the ball, defend without fouling and finish possessions with a defensive rebound,” Ham noted.

“Guys did just that. Showing our hands, trying to just be solid… No gambles. We were able to come up with some steals just because our hands were active, we forced them into some tough situations, our shifts were on time and doing our work early, shifting the lane and they threw a couple passes right to us and we were able to push the ball towards the other end. Defensively, we just need to continue to build off this, what we did tonight. Just continue to build once we get back at it on Wednesday.”

Things don’t get any easier for the Lakers on Wednesday as they host the Sacramento Kings, followed by home games against the Milwaukee Bucks and Minnesota Timberwolves. It will be imperative for Darvin Ham’s team to stay locked in defensively to keep up their winnings.

Darvin Ham: Lakers doing much better job at moving on to the next play

Things initially looked like they might go bad for the Lakers as they fell down 16-6 early on. But the Lakers responded well and were able to tie the game by the end of the quarter and Darvin Ham was happy with the Lakers’ ability to not crumble and embrace the next play mentality.

“One of our biggest mantras is the next-play mentality. You see the frustration when guys are making mistakes and turning the ball over, the live ball turnovers, or someone plays great defense and the guy still scores. But we’ve been doing a much better job of just moving on to the next play. That’s exactly what happened tonight.

“Guys dug our heels in and really just competed, on the ball, in transition, off the ball, at the rim and defending the rim, getting rebounds, tracking down long rebounds and getting runouts. So just the resilience. Just keep pushing and try to get stronger as the game gets longer.”

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