The Los Angeles Lakers can’t get out of the early season slump, losing 105-90 to the Portland Trail Blazers after yet another poor defensive showing on Saturday.
L.A. was never close to winning the clash having allowed Portland to jump ahead with a 22-point lead after the first quarter. Damian Lillard recovered from a terrible four-point performance in the last outing against the Indiana Pacers, dropping game-high 25 points to punish the Lakers’ sloppy defending.
Lillard couldn’t find a better opponent than L.A. to get his offense going. Head coach Frank Vogel admitted his team is especially vulnerable to damage dealt by skilled backcourt pairings this season.
“We’re struggling to contain quick, deep-shooting guards with this year’s personnel and the way we like to bring double teams, so we pulled back on it some and those guys took advantage of it,” Vogel said.
“Before we pulled back on it, we weren’t tough enough with our low man and our rotations and we weren’t containing their guards in the trap well enough. So neither one was happening.
“We pulled back into our base coverage and that’s risky against shooters like Dame and CJ [McCollum] and they got going a little bit. At that point, we were down we just tried to junk the game up.”
The Lakers tried to implement adjustments on the defensive end of the floor after allowing Oklahoma City Thunder star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to run the show against them a couple of days earlier.
L.A. eventually lost to the Thunder for the second time this season, earning praise from Anthony Davis for capitalizing on the team’s defensive woes.
Dwight Howard wants Lakers to play harder to deserve championship contender label
Lakers veteran Dwight Howard offered an honest assessment of the team’s current form, saying L.A. needs to play with more determination and effort to be counted among this season’s championship favorites.
“When we’re on the court, we just got to play harder. Every possession has to matter. We just got to play harder, that’s it,” he said.
“If we’re gonna win, we have to stay humble. We’re not the championship team we want to be right now, so in order to get there, we have to stay humble. It’s not a knock on who we are as players. It’s just as a team, if you want to win at any level, you got to stay humble.”
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