Frank Vogel Believes Defense Is Key To Lakers Going On Winning Streak
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have yet to keep a winning streak alive for longer than three games after a rocky first quarter of the 2021-22 season.

L.A. has been sliding over and under the .500 mark for the majority of the campaign with lingering defensive woes, injuries and questionable effort setting them back. Even after inspiring wins that initially feel like momentum changers, the Lakers often suffer a reality check in the following game and lose in a terrible style.

Precisely that happened on Friday when Los Angeles failed to build on an inspiring win over the Indiana Pacers and fell miserably to the injury-ravaged Sacramento Kings in a triple-overtime game at Staples Center.

Yet, Anthony Davis said after the Friday defeat the Lakers are capable of launching a 10-plus winning spree and turning their season around. Head coach Frank Vogel agreed with his All-Star, explaining L.A. has had moments when the team’s showed vast supplies of potential.

“We have the talent and we have enough firepower offensively and defensive athleticism to get the job done,” Vogel said before Sunday’s game against the Detroit Pistons.

“We have to commit to building an elite defense and we have to commit to playing extra-pass basketball… We have to commit to doing those things consistently. We’ve shown that throughout the course of this season, we just haven’t done it consistently enough. So it’s part of a new group, just learning about them and when they’re not performing at a high enough level, you challenge them. They’ve been challenged again, they’ll continue to be challenged and pushed to play at a higher level.”

The Lakers responded well on Sunday with a win over the Pistons, which they hope will be the start of said win streak.

After a dominant defensive third quarter that included a season-best 16-0 run for L.A., Vogel again reiterated that they can go on a win streak if they commit to playing defense.

“Well I know for sure that we can be better on the defensive side of the ball. When we commit and put our minds to it and we build the habits of Laker basketball, like the rim collisions haven’t been there consistently for us. They were great tonight. We took charges, we had verts at the rim, there was a mindset to put a body on everything that comes to the basket, and that’s been a foundation point for us the last couple of years with a new group. We hope it takes shape right away, it hasn’t. Some things take a little bit of time.

“We’re coaching our fundamentals, we’re challenging our guys on a regular basis and I believe we can be great on the defensive side of the ball, and if we do with the offense down that we have, we can beat anybody. So there is a strong belief that we can roll off a bunch of wins in a row and there’s a strong belief that we’re gonna have a great season with this group.”

Vogel: Lakers allow opponents to ‘stick around’

Vogel recently highlighted the Lakers’ lack of killer instinct as an issue the team needs to address as soon as possible if they want to turn things around.

“When we get an opportunity to knock a team out, we just allow them to stick around,” he said. “You know a handful of plays, a turnover here, can’t get a rebound there, defensive breakdown, tough shot- just haven’t been able to pull away but we’ll continue to work on it.”

That happened again on Sunday as the Lakers led Detroit by as many as 19 but won by just four, it appears there’s still more work to be done to improve in that aspect.

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