Frank Vogel: Lakers ‘Can Do Special Things’ With No. 1 Defense
Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol, Montrezl Harrell, Jason Kidd, Dennis Schroder, Miles Simon, Frank Vogel, Lakers huddle
Andrew D. Bernstein-NBAE

While offensive woes, especially with 3-point shooting, have oftentimes plagued the Los Angeles Lakers this season, they’re still perched in third place in the Western Conference thanks to their prowess on the other end of the floor.

Thirty-seven games into the season, the Lakers enjoy having the best defensive rating in the league at 106.1. The New York Knicks are second with a rating of 108.1, but Los Angeles has clutched the top spot for quite some time.

Despite playing games without Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder for a decent chunk of their schedule, the Lakers have remained a cohesive unit on the defensive end. Their perimeter defense faltered a few times just before the All-Star break, but all-in-all, they’ve demonstrated a staunch presence more often than not.

Going into the second half of the schedule soon, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel expressed confidence in how the group will improve defensively when fully healthy.

“If you put Anthony Davis and LeBron James and Schroder and Trezz and Marc and KCP, Kuz, the offensive firepower that we have on this team, come playoff time with an elite defense, if you pair the two of them, we can do special things,” Vogel said. “So the care factor is going to remain at a high level on the defensive side of the ball and that’s gonna be something that we take into the playoffs knowing that it will help us win games.”

“Defense wins championships” is the phrase often utilized when conversing about potential championship-caliber teams, and Los Angeles is certainly familiar with that after having won their 17th title in franchise history last season during the Orlando bubble.

Come playoff time, the pace of games decelerates and matches can become slugfests. The Lakers already possess experience with these types of games this season, but they failed to extract wins from them.

Forward Markieff Morris recently explained how the challenging times Los Angeles endured could benefit them when it really matters, as finding an identity can elevate a squad to realize their true capability.

Schroder discusses improvements Lakers must make

In his first season with the Lakers, Dennis Schroder has bestowed a speedy presence at the point guard slot this season. His ability to burst past defenders and attack the rim has helped generate easy points for either him or a fellow teammate, who usually has an open look after defenders collapse on Schroder.

However, Schroder acknowledged the Lakers could enhance their performance during the second half of the season on both ends of the floor, even though they’ve performed well defensively.

“We’re doing a great job defensively, offensively,” Schroder said. “Playing with pace. I always say game by game, but this is still practice. I know them now for two months playing with them or whatever and we just try to get to our top notch when we get to the playoffs.

“We’re still working on it and I think everybody is willing to do it. It’s a process.”

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