The Los Angeles Lakers have been let down by their defense yet again this season, leading to a 125-116 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.
L.A. led by eight-plus points twice in the first half, but each time Sacramento promptly wiped out their lead, capitalizing on their rivals’ defensive ineptitude. The Lakers’ struggles on that end started in the second quarter when they allowed the Kings to shoot 60% from the field.
“We just had a couple dead possessions offensively and we didn’t guard anybody to close out that quarter,” head coach Frank Vogel said.
“I think it was an 8-0 run where, I got to look at the tape, but I feel like we settled offensively and didn’t keep the ball in front of us and didn’t support our teammates. Our shell was too spread out and just a defensive breakdown.”
But L.A.’s defense leaked even more points after halftime. The Kings scored 40 in the third period, making 64% of their field goal attempts and shooting 57.1% from downtown (going 4-for-7).
In the end, the Lakers allowed Sacramento’s offense to score with a 55.1% efficiency, tying their worst opponent field goal percentage of the season, which they recorded in the November loss to the Chicago Bulls. L.A.’s offense failed to make up for the team’s defensive shortcomings, converting just 42 shots on 98 attempts (42.9%) against the Kings.
Although the Lakers’ execution could have been better on Wednesday, Vogel’s main takeaway still was his team’s underperforming defense in a second straight game.
In Sunday’s 127-119 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, the Lakers let their rivals shoot 54.7% from the field — which ranks second among the field goal percentages recorded by their opponents this season.
“I thought our energy was good and pure most of the night,” Vogel said. “We had a tough third quarter obviously, defensively in particular. For the second game in a row, the defense let us down. In the last game, it was the second and third quarter, and in this game, it was the third quarter.
“So we got to figure out what we’re doing there and be better in that situation and obviously there’s a number of ways we can execute better.”
Vogel: Lakers failed to defend as unit in loss to Sacramento
The Kings had no issues making buckets from close range on Wednesday, shooting 79.4% from within five feet. Vogel says the Lakers need to improve their help defense when they play with small-ball lineups.
“I got to look at the tape, but I just feel like we weren’t strong enough in our help positions,” the head coach said.
“I feel like we were leaving teammates on an island and against a quick, attacking team like this, you have to show a presence. They have to see five defenders and I thought there were too many situations where we didn’t do that tonight.”
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