The Los Angeles Lakers got back in the win column against one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams, coming away with a 113-106 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks to start a seven-game road trip.
Head coach Frank Vogel’s team was much more engaged than their previous contest and the defense again came through when it mattered most. The Bucks came in with the best offense in the NBA, but the Lakers held them 14 points below their season average and under 30 points in each of the last three quarters.
Though there were still some things Vogel wants to improve on, he was certainly happy with the Lakers’ effort. “I didn’t have a problem with our energy the whole night. I think we had some plays offensively where we had poor balance,” he said.
One of the biggest issues for Vogel is the Lakers’ tendency to lose track of role players as they focus on the opposition’s stars and that remained the case despite the win.
“We’ve had a couple games in a row in transition, where we’re so focused on Steph Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, that we’re losing guys,” Vogel explained. “That happened a ton tonight. We have to improve with that.
“We still have to make sure we match up to everyone on the floor, in particular not letting guys get behind our defense. Just an area to clean up and hopefully learn from in a win.”
In the loss to the Warriors, the Lakers allow 23 points to Kelly Oubre Jr. and 19 to Eric Paschall, which served to offset holding Stephen Curry to just 8-for-22 shooting. Against Milwaukee, the Lakers gave up 23 points to Jrue Holday, who is averaging under 16 per game this season.
This of course, could be attributed to the Lakers focusing so much attention to reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, but Vogel doesn’t feel the Lakers were great in defending him either.
“We worked a lot on transition defense against Giannis in practice, and we were very poor with it (in the game),” Vogel said. “We didn’t do it as well as we needed to. It’s one of those things that you can try to simulate in practice, it’s just not the same as a guy like Giannis coming at you full speed. We have to be better.”
In the end the Lakers were able to come out with a victory, which is the most important thing. It was also a major test as the Bucks are arguably the best team the Lakers have faced so far this season.
Vogel holds the Lakers to a high standard on the defensive end and the team wants to be the top team on that end of the floor.
Lakers aware of need to improve defense in the paint
One of the biggest areas that needs improvement as far as the Lakers defense is concerned is their ability to protect the paint. It was an issue in their win over the Bucks as Milwaukee dominated in terms of points in the paint despite Vogel pushing his team to improve.
“I think it’s still too early to put a DNA on us guarding the paint,” Vogel said prior to the win over the Bucks. “I will say that I challenged my team in practice to be better with our low man protection.
“I’d say the last three or four games, even though we won, it hasn’t been done at a high enough level for my liking. It’s something we’ll get better. We’re doing a good job overall on that side of the ball, but always working to get better.”
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