Darvin Ham: Analytics Showed Lakers Played Good Defense Despite 3-Point Barrage From Trail Blazers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers were blown in Portland by the Trail Blazers on Monday night and it is easy to pinpoint why. Led by star point guard Damian Lillard, the Trail Blazers unleashed a storm of 23 made 3-pointers with a franchise-record 17 of those coming in the first half as Darvin Ham and the Lakers could not figure out a way to cool off Portland.

It would be easy to think that Ham would be unhappy with his team’s defensive effort, but on the contrary, he was happy with the way the Lakers competed and gave credit to Lillard and the rest of the Trail Blazers for making shots, via Spectrum SportsNet:

“They were making shots and we couldn’t make any in the first half, 36.5% from the field and it’s tough. That barrage of threes it’s hard to overcome. But my hats off to them, with Anfernee [Simons] and Dame [Lillard], it’s a helluva two-headed monster, but they also had some other guys that played really, really well. Shot the ball really well. I’m just proud of our guys, the way they didn’t just roll over. Continued to compete even though things weren’t going so well for us offensively. We tried our best and switched up some coverages, but just competed all the way through the end.”

Furthermore, Ham revealed that the Lakers coaching staff looked over their analytics at the half it revealed that the Lakers did a great job of contesting the Portland’s 3-pointers overall:

“I mean we checked the analytical data at halftime and according to that data, our defensive shot quality we would’ve been number one in the league. They were contested, they moved the ball on some of em, some of em it was by design, certain guys that we shifted even more off of off the ball. But credit to them, they made shots tonight, 17 threes in a half, that’s incredible.”

It seemed to be a mixed bag on the contesting of the 3-pointers for L.A. Some of Lillard’s 3s were just great shots over good defense, and as Ham pointed out, the more open ones, particularly those of Matisse Thybulle, were by design as he has always been a subpar outside shooter. But there were also instances of the Lakers going under screens which just can’t happen when a team is as red-hot as Portland was.

But in the end, Ham just gave credit to Lillard, who finished with 40 points on the night. He believes their hot shooting, combined with the Lakers’ inability to knock down their own open shots, eventually discouraged his team:

“He’s such an elite level scorer, basketball player, smart, finding different ways to get the ball even when we’re trying to deny him. Off the ball, his movements, the way he navigates and uses screens he’s just a phenomenal ball player and then Anfernee as well. You just try to do your best to make it as difficult as possible for him. Outside of stealing his sneakers I don’t know what else you could do. You play good D and he still knocks down shots.

“You can’t get discouraged and I thought we did at times which is human nature when you’re forcing guys into difficult shots and they’re making em and on the other end you’re getting good looks and easy looks and you’re not making em. You just have to weather that storm and we’ll be better on Wednesday.”

It was another disappointing loss to a team ahead of the Lakers in the Western Conference standings and one the Lakers can’t afford to have too many more of if they plan on sneaking in the playoffs.

Ham to start D’Angelo Russell, Dennis Schroder in Lakers’ backcourt for foreseeable future

The Lakers will need to get better and fast, and some changes may need to be made. But one that won’t is the team’s starting backcourt. Ham has employed Dennis Schroder and D’Angelo Russell together since the trade deadline and that will remain the plan moving forward.

Ham noted that the two are very different types of players despite both technically being point guards and believes their games complement each other well before adding that he plans on the duo starting for the foreseeable future.

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