From his time as the head coach of the Indiana Pacers, Frank Vogel has earned his reputation as being defensive-minded. He brought that over to the Los Angeles Lakers and armed with arguably the best defensive piece in the league in Anthony Davis, made them a top-5 defensive team on their way to winning the 2020 NBA championship.
The Lakers planned to carry that identity into this season season despite roster changes, but the results had been mixed thus far. With Davis coming down on himself and the rest of the team’s defensive effort, the Lakers responded with their best performance of the young season against the Houston Rockets.
The team forced 21 turnovers while also coming away with 13 steals and eight blocks in their 18-point victory, and Vogel believes the win was one to establish what the Lakers are all about.
“This game, as much as any throughout the year, was a Laker basketball type of win,” Vogel said. “Flying around defensively, getting stops without fouls, either forcing turnovers or forcing misses, and then flying on the break. It was sort of an identity win.”
He has preached patience since becoming head coach of the Lakers, and reiterated that while acknowledging there are games when the offense is leading the charge.
“It’s a balancing act. Some nights the offense is going to be there, some nights the defense,” Vogel said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in this team on the defensive end. We’ve had some nights where we were a step slow to certain things and still learning some coverages and whatnot. I think we’re going to be good there.
“We’ve just got to be a team that buys into being a team-first team offensively and continuing to trust the pass.”
Regardless of how good a team is offensively, it is very difficult to win when you are unable to get consistent stops on defense. For the Lakers, who are at their best when able to get out in transition, locking in on defense is that much more important as turnovers lead to easy points.
Davis is the spearhead of the Lakers’ defensive attack, but they have all of the pieces to be one of the top teams in the league. That in turn leads to them being able to dominate on offense and very few teams are able to keep up with the Lakers when that happens.
LeBron says Lakers goal is to be NBA’s top defensive team
If the Lakers are able to do exactly that with more dominant defensive performances, they will be able to accomplish their regular season go as LeBron James laid out.
LeBron said the Lakers want to be the best defensive team in the NBA. It’s a standing they aren’t too far off from. The Lakers currently rank sixth in defensive rating, after finishing third last season.
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