The Los Angeles Lakers built their identity around defense during the 2019-20 campaign, but so far they are still looking to find their stride on that end of the court through the first 10 games of the 2020-21 season.
With a shortened offseason and plenty of roster turnover, head coach Frank Vogel has the difficult task of getting the players collectively up to speed. Recently, the Lakers have looked out of sorts defensively, especially in their recent loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
Anthony Davis was critical of Los Angeles’ defense after the loss, and while Vogel agreed with his star he still preached patience. “Well, coming into [Thursday] night’s game, we were second in the league in defense,” Vogel said.
“We had a terrible defensive night, so I understand his frustrations. I felt the same exact way, but at the same time, it’s early in the season. It’s a process. We’re learning a new group and we’re evolving as a team. This is just part of the process.
“We had bumps in the road, very similar to [Thursday] night, early in the season last year. It’s just something we have to continue to work at each day. Not a big concern of mine.”
After seeing how special the Lakers can be defensively, the early returns have been frustrating but Vogel’s comments indicate he and the coaching staff are taking the long view. Davis added that the purple and gold must improve on defense in order to repeat, but it stands to reason that he and Vogel will be able to figure it out as the season goes on.
Vogel explains poor defensive effort against Spurs
The Lakers gave up 118 points against the Spurs, and had trouble containing LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 28 points on the night. Vogel detailed some of the defensive coverages, but also credited San Antonio.
“Again, I don’t think it was 100% us lacking,” Vogel explained. “I think sometimes you have to credit your opponent, and the Spurs shot the heck out of the basketball from the perimeter. We were a little bit slow to some coverages early in the game, but Aldridge gives them a different dynamic.
“The way we were guarding Patty Mills in particular, trying to bring two to the ball every time he came off screens, it worked a lot better when LaMarcus Aldridge was not out there. When he was out there, it created some problems that we had to adjust throughout the game. When we did play good defense, they swung the ball around and hit a guarded shot.
“Sometimes there’s a perfect storm of breakdowns early and when you do get it right, guys hit tough shots. Just one of those nights.”
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