Darvin Ham: Defensive Breakdowns Hurt Lakers Against Warriors
Darvin Ham, Lakers
Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers returned from the All-Star break in unceremonious fashion. With LeBron James, among others, on the mend, L.A. was outpaced wire-to-wire by the Golden State Warriors. Head coach Darvin Ham only played six people above 20 minutes and was forced to deploy an eight-man rotation against a well-rested Stephen Curry and company.

The result was a 128-110 loss, their first loss since Feb. 8. The Warriors pulled ahead toward the end of the second quarter and never looked back.

With 3:38 remaining in the first half, it was a 51-50 Lakers lead. But Golden State has become famous for their ability to blitz teams in short spans during their dynasty, and the Lakers got a taste of that. The Warriors ended the half on a 17-5 run and didn’t let go of the lead from there.

Ham focused on this section of the game and what went wrong for the Lakers on both ends of the court, via Spectrum SportsNet:

“We had a couple of turnovers. Them being more scrappy, they put a lot of pressure on our defense because of their movement obviously and their ability to shoot the ball. We had a couple breakdowns off the ball but without having watched it yet, I just felt like they made some energy plays and again, this is a team that puts pressure on you to give multiple efforts constantly. Obviously they made that push late in the first half and then as the second half started I thought we got better on the ball, switched up some matchups, switched up the coverage a little bit. Then we kind of didn’t do what we needed to do off the ball in terms of maintaining matchups, sending everything to the coverage. A couple opportunities we had to kick small guys out and put a bigger body on guys that were rolling our smalls down due to our switching. Kind of fell asleep in that department, but it’s just one of those games coming out of the break, it’s gonna be tough playing against a team like this. But we got another one tonight, we got to win the recovery game, fill our cups back up and try to get better.”

Even with the mistakes and breakdowns toward the end of the first half, Ham isn’t worried about what it means for the Lakers moving forward. He sees mostly easy fixes alongside the return of the team’s star player:

“Obviously getting Bron back will be great. And then just doing the little things. Not skipping any steps. Again, our on-ball defense got better, our off-ball defense suffered a little bit in the second half, a lot a bit for that matter. And they were able to get second and third-chance opportunities, second-chance points at a really high level. We had some untimely turnovers but for the most part, we did a good job taking care of the ball. Kept them in check a little bit with our transition defense, but again, their ability to shoot the ball and when you give them multiple opportunities on their offensive glass, they’re a pretty hard team to beat.”

The Lakers shouldn’t have any reason for concern based on Thursday’s performance, as they have gone back and forth with the Warriors for a while now regardless of roster construction. They also only turned the ball over 11 times on the game, even if some of them came at inopportune times.

Ham and the Lakers get another crack at it on Friday against the San Antonio Spurs with LeBron James — who missed Thursday’s game — likely back in the lineup.

Darvin Ham: James will play against Spurs in all likelihood

James has been bothered by his ankle for a good chunk of the 2023-24 season and has often missed at least one game of a back-to-back set. Los Angeles won’t have much time to mull over the loss to Golden State as they’ll host the San Antonio Spurs, who are also coming off a loss, on Friday in the second night of a back-to-back.

Fortunately for the Lakers, Ham said that there’s a strong chance that James is able to return to the lineup against the Spurs.

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