Darvin Ham Seeing Improvements With Lakers Having Next Play Mentality
Darvin Ham, Lakers, Thunder
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers escaped Friday night with an ugly, 101-94 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers. Despite the constant emphasis on turnovers from head coach Darvin Ham, L.A. coughed the ball up 21 times.

They were able to steal the win with an impressive fourth quarter stretch and holding the 76ers to 34.4% from the field for the game. 94 points is the second-fewest allowed by the Lakers this season.

The Lakers have allowed games like these to get away from them this season. Previously, when the offense has not been in rhythm, they haven’t been able to rely on their defense. That is when mistakes piled up and the Lakers wound up losing several games. But Friday finally saw them focus in, lean on their defense and win in spite of mistakes.

This is what Ham has been preaching all season, and spoke about what it looks like when it finally comes together.

“Absolutely. We talk about giving multiple efforts and having the next play mentality, even when things are good, bad or indifferent. A lot of things are gonna happen in an NBA basketball game, the one thing you can’t do is have self inflicted wounds where you’re disappointed that you didn’t get a whistle or you’re turning the ball over.

“Like I’ve said, there’s a difference between just unforced errors and competitive turnovers. Some of our turnovers were competitive, guys just trying to get the ball to an open guy and it didn’t quite work out. But a bunch of them happened in a row. Then playing against the shot clock where you have to throw up a hand grenade, that’s almost just like a turnover as well because you’re not getting a shot in rhythm.

“But again, our group buckled down, guys became vocal on the sideline which was great,” Ham said. “The dialogue, we’ve been preaching that all year and it’s really been at a high level here lately. Just us talking things through and not imploding, just trying to figure it out. That frustration needs to be a prelude to focus. It’s human nature to get upset, angry about mistakes that are being made. But you can’t wallow in that emotion, you got to move forward quickly in order to still sustain yourself and come out on top of a game like this.”

Ham isn’t going to forget the turnovers and still plans to emphasize it, but was happy with the way the Lakers responded to get stops.

“You definitely have to look at it,” Ham said. “The good news is the way we guarded and defended everything. But again, there’s things to get better at. Closing out possessions with a defensive rebound, and then offensively, our pace was good. We had some great runouts it just didn’t connect. Again, there’s a difference between complete unforced errors and competitive turnovers. So we’ll get to the film and show some of this and again, try to learn from it, grow from it and be better at it.”

The Lakers learning how to lean on their defense for the final 12 games of the season would be massive. They need to win as many of these final games as possible if they want to climb out of the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference and make their work easier for the Play-In Tournament or postseason.

Anthony Davis encouraged by Lakers defensive effort

Anthony Davis discussed why it’s so important for the Lakers to have the ability to play games like Friday, where they rely on their defense amid offensive struggles.

“We got to, no matter what happens on the offensive end, we have been able to rely on our defense,” Davis said. “They made some plays, made some shots, we turned it over like 20-plus times tonight. They did their job on the defensive end to turn the ball over, which they’ve been great at since Joel [Embiid] been hurt, but we just stayed locked in defensively to just continue to get stops and then let that fuel our offense.”

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